A couple of friends dropped a gift bag on my desk a few weeks ago filled with curries, spices and dried lemons from Dubai. How lucky, and for no reason- just because they’re nice guysJ. I have never seen dried lemons before, much less cooked with them so I was really excited, absolutely LOVE new ingredients! Traditionally dried lemons are used in Middle Eastern and Persian cooking. The lemons are picked when they are ripe, then boiled and salt water and dried in the sun. They have a strong sour flavor so they should be “cooked with” not eaten as you can other dried fruits. I took my friends recommendation and decided to try the lemons out with a roast chicken.
The flavor was light and delicate, but the aroma of the lemons was strong, a great combination. The lemons are traditionally used in stews, which will be next!
- 1 roasting chicken
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoon medium curry
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 dried lemons, split in half
- 1 inch ginger root, sliced
To prepare the chicken, start by rinsing the bird with water and patting it dry with paper towels. Place the chicken in a roasting pan and pour the olive oil over it, spreading it evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle the curry, salt and pepper all over the chicken, including the inside cavity. Place the sliced ginger and dried lemon halves into the cavity and truss the chicken.
Trussing the chicken is a great way to keep the bird cooking evenly. There are many methods to truss a chicken, but the as long as the legs and wings are kept close to the body and the cavity is closed you will have an evenly roasted chicken!
I like to roast chicken at 475°F for 25 minutes and then turn the oven down to 400°F for another 45 minutes or until the thickest part of the thigh hits 165°F on a meat thermometer. Great color, Great flavor and plenty of juice!
To go with this chicken I made a flavorful rice, using one of my favorite types of rice- popcorn rice. Sir Wes and I discovered it on a trip to New Orleans a few years ago and have been hoarding the bags for special meals only. It has a rich, nutty flavor and is very aromatic. The flavor is great all by itself but for this meal I added a few twists.
Almond and Raisin Popcorn Rice
- ¼ cup diced yellow onion
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup of popcorn rice, rinsed in water and pat dry
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 3 tablespoons toasted almond sliver
- 4 tablespoons raisins
- Fresh ground black pepper
Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium high; add in onions and sauté for a minute. Add rice and sauté for a few more minutes. Toasting the rice like this will refresh it, who knows how long it has sat on the shelf; it will also enhance the natural flavors of the rice. Add the chicken stock and the water and bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low and cover the saucepan with a lid. Allow the rice to cook for about 40 minutes. The water should be absorbed and the rice tender. Fluff with a fork and add in the cilantro, almonds and raisins. The raisins will rehydrate naturally as they sit with the hot rice. Sprinkle with ground black pepper before serving.
Serves 3-5 really good friends depending how hungry they are!