Earlier this year, when I was busily turning winter’s citrus into marmalades and jams, I lamented to Shae that I was a bit disappointed with my first foray into Meyer lemons. “I mean, they are nice enough,” I said, “but I don’t really see what all the fuss is about. I keep thinking I would like them better if they were more, well, lemony.” Shae responded that Meyers are quite soft-skinned and not as hardy as other citrus fruits, so they lose their joy fairly quickly, but that a fresh Meyer, just picked off the tree, was a true wonder. Given that my backyard was buried under about 3 feet of snow at the time, picking any fruit off of any tree seemed like a miracle. Since, short of throwing caution (and credit-card debt) to the wind and booking a flight out to Cali, I was not going to be picking my own Meyers any time soon, Shae sent me the next best thing: some of her own Meyer marm. And coming, as it did, from the Queen of Meyer marmalade, you just knew that this preserve was going to be special. So I wanted to honor Shae’s Meyer marm with something special: a recipe all its own.
Of course I could make something sweet, like a Meyer lemon shortbread, or some form of jam bar, but I was in the mood for something savory. In a rare 20th century manouevre, I turned away from my beloved Interwebs and browsed instead through my stack of (somewhat forlorn) cookbooks. And, in an old favorite, I found just the thing to tickle my Meyer marm fancy: Lemon Thyme Chicken Rolls. Now, before you get too excited, there is no thyme in my recipe. No chicken. Not really much lemon, actually. About the only thing I kept from the original recipe was the concept: the roll. Meat cutlets, pounded thin and marinated in an acidic dressing, then rolled around sautéed vegetables and baked until done. It sounded perfect: not overly difficult, but different, special, fancy. Just like Meyer lemon marmalade.
Boneless chicken breasts turned into Flying Pigs pork cutlets. Sautéed mushrooms and thyme turned into leeks & carrots with fresh dill. And a basic lemon and white wine marinade turned into Meyer lemon PAMAnade, with dry white wine, garlic and spices, and plenty of Meyer lemon rind and pomegranate arils. And the taste? Well, let’s just say that I can begin to see what all the fuss is about. The Meyer lemon flavor permeated this dish: floral, delicate, sweet, yet bold enough to hold its own against pork and aromatic vegetables. It infused what could have been a heavy, hearty dish with a lightness that is perfect for Spring. It gave early-Spring-in-the-Northeast fare a touch of the exotic, which is, after all, what everyone loves about the Meyer lemon, isn’t it? Thank you, Shae, for sending me your wonderful marmalade and for making me see the Meyer light. And thanks for inspiring this recipe: it’s a keeper.
Inspired by Lemon Thyme Chicken Rolls in For Goodness Sake by Terry Joyce Blonder (out of print)
- 1/4 cup Meyer lemon marmalade
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 lb pork cutlets
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium leek, halved lengthwise, cleaned well, and thinly sliced, white & light green parts only
- 2 medium carrots, finely diced
- 4 small ramps, white & green parts, thinly sliced (or about 1/4 cup packed baby spinach, chard or arugula)
- 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
- rice or other grain, for serving (optional)
- Combine marinade ingredients in a small, shallow bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Using a meat mallet or wine bottle, pound pork cutlets, beneath a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap, to a uniform thickness of 1/4-inch. Add pork to marinade, mix to cover all meat, then marinate, refrigerated, for at least 2 hours. Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to cooking.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat oil in a large skillet until shimmering, but not smoking. Add leeks, carrots, ramps, onion and garlic; sauté until just softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper and chopped dill. Transfer to a clean bowl.
- Spread a thin layer of vegetables over the bottom of a clean baking dish (I used a 9-inch oval baker). Pull pork cutlets out of the marinade, one at a time, and spread flat on a clean cutting board. Spoon some sautéed vegetables down the middle of a pork cutlet; roll the cutlet up, around the filling, and secure with a toothpick (or simply pack tightly together, seam down) and place in the baking dish. Repeat with each cutlet. Tuck any leftover vegetables into the dish; pour the marinade over the cutlets.
- Roast, basting occasionally, until the pork is cooked through (meat is only slightly pink and meat temperature reads at least 150 degrees F), about 20 – 25 minutes. Serve cutlets sliced or whole, with braised vegetables or over rice or other grain. Spoon extra marinade over the pork and garnish with fresh dill.
- The rolls cooked a little bit unevenly, because the bottom half were braising in marinade while the top half were roasting. I think covering the baking dish would result in more even cooking, and help to keep the meat as tender and juicy as possible.
- If you can’t source Meyer lemon marmalade you might try a mix of orange and lemon marmalade, or perhaps one marmalade and one sweeter jam.
Refrigerated, for up to 5 days.
Winter into early Spring.