When life gives you lemons…

Published 8:07 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Salt and pepper are two of the world’s most common seasonings. They’re in just about every kitchen cabinet on the planet and on most restaurant tables.

Both provide a little extra kick of flavor to mealtime by enhancing your dish’s natural flavors. As popular as they are, salt and pepper aren’t the only thing you can turn to when you want to turbo-charge dinner time. Lemons add a pretty special “zing” too.

Lemons are super-versatile and can be used in just about anything.

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Many chefs refer to a lemon as a “flavor catalyst”, meaning it ramps up the natural flavors in foods.

It also brings with it a fresh, light and tangy flavor.

They contain a lot of acids and will held dissolve connective tissues in meats.

That’s why most marinades contain lemon juice. But be careful not to over-do it. Using too much, or leaving to marinate too long, can actually make the meat tougher.

Lemon juice also helps keep apples and potatoes from turning brown after you cut them.

Lemons can be used in a variety of ways, and you don’t even have to eat them!

If you get a funky smell in your garbage disposal, drop three or four lemon slices in there and switch it on.

Your typical lemon only contains about 3 tablespoons of juice, so to get the best bang for your buck let it come to room temperature and roll it around on the counter while slightly applying pressure with your hand before cutting.

The yellow “skin” on the lemon is called zest. It’s also rich in flavor and it’s edible!

When zesting the lemon, be careful not to get into the white rind just under the zest. It’s bitter.

Give this recipe a try if you want to add a little lemony kick to a chicken dish that already has a little kick in it to begin with.

You’ll need:

2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Juice of 1 lemon

4 (6 to 7 ounces each) chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless

4 tablespoons bread crumbs

In a small bowl, combine chipotle chiles, mayonnaise and lemon juice.

In a baking dish, arrange the chicken in one layer.

Be sure to coat them completely with the chipotle/mayonnaise mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours but not more than 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Before baking, sprinkle 1 tablespoon bread crumbs on each chicken breast. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Top with lemon zest to taste. A little goes a long way here, so be careful and, remember, don’t get into the white rind of your lemon!

This dish is best served over a bed of yellow rice but, if you don’t like yellow, white is fine.

For a little extra “pop” in your rice, try dropping in a can of Rotel tomatoes or chili ready tomatoes once the rice has been drained or absorbed all the water in the pot (depending on the type of rice you’re using).

Tiffany Cannon is a field editor for Taste of Home Magazine and owner of 2ate9 Bakery and Catering in Demopolis. She can be reached via email at tiffany@2ate9.com