Pique-Nique I – Chicken Rillettes with Preserved Lemon and Summer Savory


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Fat.  Let’s not beat around the bush, shall we?  Fat’s probably the best place to begin a discussion of Chicken Rillettes with Preserved Lemon and Summer Savory.  Au debut, as the French say, in the beginning, rillettes meant one thing – pork.  Or rather, pork and fat.  Rillettes was pork that had been salted, cooked slowly in pork fat, shredded, then preserved in the same fat, and served at room temperature, usually spread on toast.  Rillettes* are now found all over France, and while pork is still popular, in the Southwest, the Midi-Pyrenees, extending down to the Spanish border, the technique is more often seen with duck or rabbit.  Today rillettes of salmon, tuna or other fatty fish, or even mushrooms are not uncommon on pricey menus.  It’s hard to argue with that–what doesn’t taste good when cooked slowly in fat and salt?

Spaghetti with Bottarga, Preserved Lemon and Chilies

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For the last two years we’ve posted spring recipes for shad roe, a seasonal reward for surviving winter. We’re still rolling with roe this year, but of a dramatically different kind: Spaghetti with Bottarga, Preserved Lemon and Chilies. Bottarga is the salted dried roe of gray mullet or bluefin tuna. Grated over pasta or served in very thin slices, it may be even more of an umami bomb than garum. Until recently only Americans fortunate enough to travel to Sicily, Sardinia or parts of Calabria were likely to encounter bottarga. But about ten years ago lumps of bottarga began showing up in a few American chefs’ hands. Its rich, funky flavor provokes either love or hate, but at twelve to fifteen dollars an ounce, it’s pricey enough to keep all but the curious or committed from seeking it out and trying it. Two ounces is more than enough for pasta for 4. Be forwarned: the curious have a way of morphing into bottarga zealots after their initial taste experience. Think guanciale of the sea. Armed with a small amount of bottarga and prep so rudimentary it makes bolognese look like a kidney transplant, you can make a pasta dish fit for the gods.

On the road to Marrakech – Preserved Lemons, Limes and Kumquats

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Preserved lemons may never be as commonplace to American cooks as pesto, which was once unknown outside of immigrant Italian homes.  But who can say?   A salty, fragrant ingredient with a hint of sweetness.  Stranger things have happened.  Maybe the day will come when the thought of dark greens brings preserved lemon trailing behind.  And not just with greens, how about a chilled crab salad with preserved lemon?  Or as a contrapuntal note in risotto with guanciale.  That day has already arrived at our house.  Once upon a time most Americans venturing into the world of these strange, salted citrus fruit needed a culinary anthropologist like Paula Wolfert to tell us what to do with them.  No longer.  Any time we need a bright, sharp flavor accent with something floral, we think preserved lemon.  For seafood, for pork, for chicken, for lamb.  Oddly, about the only thing we don’t have with preserved lemon is beef.  But I’m open to suggestions, if you have a good one.  In the meantime, if you’re someone who’s always wanted to make your own Preserved Lemons, Limes and Kumquats, this is the post for you.

Turkey Risotto with Saffron and Preserved Lemon

Making risotto with the remains of the holiday bird is tradition in our family.  Thanksgiving or Christmas, turkey or goose.  No matter.  One decent risotto polishes off all the goose leftovers, but turkeys tend to be a bit more generous, with enough leftovers for sandwiches and a risotto, like this week’s Turkey Risotto with Saffron and Preserved Lemon, and maybe even a soup (e.g. Turkey Soup with Baby Bok Choy and Rice Stick Noodles). 

Garlic Love – Skordalia with Parsley Salad

  In my personal desert island larder (you know, What would you take if you had to choose only a dozen or so dishes or ingredients  on a desert island for the rest of your life?) Skordalia with Parsley Salad would surely rate shelf space.*  And not because it includes potatoes.  But because it includes …

No Flat Tires – Steel-Cut Oats with Eggs, Preserved Lemon and Olives

When Jody and I signed up for the cycling fund-raiser the PanMass Challenge last year we stepped up our game when it came to exercise. Speaking exclusively for my Falstaffian self, I thought it might not be a bad idea to drop a few pounds ahead of the actual 200-mile 2-day ride. That’s how we ended up making dishes like Steel-Cut Oats with Eggs, Preserved Lemon and Olives.

But it was a journey to get there.

Artichoke junkies

For a month now I’ve been seeing artichokes in markets, both “baby” and full-size globes.   I love artichokes and last year I became obsessed creating the perfect grilled  long-stemmed artichoke, served with lemon and aioli. During a spring trip to Rome awhile back I was fascinated with artichoke vendors at open air markets sitting atop …