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Moroccan Preserved Lemons

January 6, 2007

My son-in-law Pierre-Henri is an enthusiastic cook, with an excellent palate, no doubt educated by his mother, Jozette. She was a talented home cook long before she took lessons at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. She and Pierre-Henri's father lived in Morocco when Pierre-Henri was a boy, and passed along a love of this cuisine to him. Not long after he and Audrey came to stay with me, he put up a batch of these Moroccan preserved lemons. The large yellow ovals in a tall glass jar were incredibly alluring on the kitchen counter. Everyone asked what they were. Everyone wanted to taste them. After a month of torturous waiting, he dazzled us with several recipes. I've since devised many other ways to use them. Only the rind of these lemons is used; it is not as sharp as the rind of fresh lemons. A word of warning: An unattractive scum from the lemons may rise to the top. It is not dangerous and may be skimmed off and discarded.

14 large lemons
9 tablespoons salt

Wash the lemons, scrubbing them if necessary to remove any stamps or markings. Cut each lemon vertically from the stem nearly to the blossom end, keeping the halves joined. Salt the exposed surface of each lemon with at least 1 teaspoon of salt.
Fill a container with the lemons with as little excess space as possible. Cover the lemons with lukewarm water mixed with the remaining salt and top with a clean stone or weight (not marble or limestone) to keep all the lemons immersed. Cover tightly and let sit 1 month before using. To use, remove the yellow part of the rind, and discard the lemon flesh and pith. The rind can then be sectioned, sliced, or chopped.

Makes 14

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