All winter long, I find myself turning to citrus to bring bright, sunny flavors into my meals. So it seems only right to celebrate the end of the season for one of my favorite fruits, Meyer lemons.
Meyer lemons originated in China and are a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange. They differ from regular lemons in both flavor and appearance. The flesh and juice of Meyer lemons are sweeter, with a more floral taste. Their skins are smoother, thinner and a deeper yellow or even orange in color.
Best of all, they don't have the thick, bitter layer of pith that's prominent in regular lemons. Meaning, you can make the most of the entire lemon, which is what we do in this week's Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata.
The classic Italian American dish is simple but sophisticated, and perfect for any night of the week. It starts with sautéing chicken cutlets until golden. A tart and slightly briny pan sauce is made with chicken stock, lemon juice and capers. Butter is whisked in at the last moment to enrich and thicken the sauce.
Using Meyer lemons in place of regular lemons adds a unique complexity to the straightforward flavors. We not only use the juice of the lemon, but also slice one up and cook it, along with the chicken, in the sauce.
Meyer lemons don't make the dish sweet in any way, but because they are less acidic, they add a lovely mellowness and complexity to the otherwise straightforward sauce.
I like to serve this dish with a starch, like pasta or rice, to soak up every drop of the delicious sauce.
Meyer lemons are usually available until the end of May, but if you can't find them in your local grocery store, try substituting a 50-50 mix of regular lemons and tangerines for the juice and zest, and just eliminate the sliced lemon in the sauce.
And if there happen to be any extra Meyer lemons, play with them in place of standard lemons in your favorite recipes. They're great in cakes, cookies, bars, etc. And now that the weather is warm, you can enjoy them, sitting outside, in a refreshing beverage. Lemonade is the obvious choice, but in an icy gin and tonic or margarita? Heaven.
Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata
Note: With their slightly sweet, mellow flavor, Meyer lemons give a unique twist to this classic dish, adding complexity and taking the edge off what can sometimes be a sharply flavored sauce. No Meyer lemons? No problem. Just omit the slices in the sauce and use a combination of 50% lemon and 50% tangerine for the zest and juice. From Meredith Deeds.
• 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
• 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
• 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary
• 2 tbsp. finely chopped shallots
• 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
• 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken stock
• Zest from 1 Meyer lemon
• 3 tbsp. fresh Meyer lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons), divided
• 1 Meyer lemon, cut into 1/4-in. slices, seeds removed
• 2 tbsp. capers
• 1 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
Slice chicken breasts in half crosswise into cutlets and lightly pound each piece between sheets of plastic wrap until they're an even thickness.
Place flour into a shallow bowl. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in flour and shake off any excess.
In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, without crowding the pan, add the chicken and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken, adding more olive oil if needed. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet.
Place skillet, with drippings, over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the stock, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice and lemon slices to the pan and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken back to the skillet and simmer with the sauce over low heat, turning once, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is slightly thickened. Transfer chicken and lemon slices to a serving platter.
Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, capers and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the chicken with the sauce poured over the top. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.