Meyer Lemons – a culinary favorite of mine with its deep yellow hue and fragrant flavor. Rumored to be a cross between a lemon and an orange–or mandarin, this zesty citrus fruit was named for Frank N. Meyer who first brought it to the United States from China in 1908.
Typically available December through April, Meyer lemons are different from standard lemons. They have pretty “thin skin”, are highly aromatic, and offer a bit of a sweeter taste than standard lemons. They’re great in cocktails or desserts, but are also d’lish in savory dishes!
(Photo courtesy of Girl Versus Dough.)
I like to thinly slice them and roast them along a chicken or pork roast. The slices are so tasty when cooked and eaten with the dish like in my recipe for Spiced Chicken with Meyer Lemon, Pears & Port.
The zest of their peel is fragrant and delicious — in dishes like Herbed Meyer Lemon Orzo – or added to shortbread cookies for a great citrus-y zing!
So cook up some new dishes this winter with Meyer Lemons while they are in season! –Kathy
Spiced Chicken with Meyer Lemon, Pears & Port
This is a great entrée for a dinner party. I also love it sprinkled with blue cheese right before serving for a delicious twist.
Makes 6 servings
3 firm ripe fresh pears
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 skin-on, bone-in chicken breast halves
2 shallots, thinly sliced
6 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
1 unpeeled Meyer lemon, sliced (about 9 slices)
1 cup port wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves for garnishing
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut pears in half and core. Cut each half in half and then in half again—to make large chunks. Reserve.
In a small bowl, mix the spices and salt. Lay the chicken on a baking sheet or piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, and sprinkle each piece liberally on both sides with the spice mixture.
In a large nonstick skillet or sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot. Sauté half of the chicken for about 3 minutes on each side, or until the skin is deep golden brown and crispy. As the pieces are browned, place them, skin side up, in a 10-by-15-inch baking pan or small roasting pan. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
Pour off any excess oil, then sauté the pears, shallots, garlic, and lemon for about 1 minute. Add the port and stir to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring just to a boil, and then add the hot mixture, with all the goodies, to the roasting pan, pouring it around, not over, the chicken to keep the browned crust intact.
Roast for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the chicken is opaque throughout and nicely browned on the outside, with an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (chicken will gain another 5 degrees on standing).
Transfer the chicken to a platter or individual plates and keep warm. Using a slotted spoon, retrieve the pears, shallots, garlic, and lemon slices from the sauce and distribute them over the chicken. Place the roasting pan on a burner on high heat and cook to reduce the sauce to about 3/4 cup. (If you like your sauce to have a bit more body, mix 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of water until smooth and whisk into the reducing sauce. Cook till lightly thickened.) Taste the sauce for seasoning, adjust if needed, then drizzle the sauce over the chicken and goodies. Scatter with parsley leaves for garnish.
Adapted from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table cookbook.
Herbed Meyer Lemon Orzo
Makes 6 servings
12 ounces dry orzo pasta (2 cups)
2 tablespoons butter, salted
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon very finely minced shallots
1/2 cup very coarsely chopped Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup thinly sliced chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely minced Meyer lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh-ground black pepper
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo and cook for approximately 6 – 7 minutes, stirring often, until just al dente or per package instructions. Immediately drain well, then place orzo in a heat-proof bowl. Stir in butter, olive oil, shallots and herbs to coat well. Then stir in lemon juice, zest, seasonings and cheese. Serve immediately.
Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®.