Grilling: huge flavor. Meyer lemons: come on. Put the two of them together in the right context: fireworks. Grilling lemons is a little Chef’s secret. Anything, anything that goes well with lemons will go well with grilled lemon. The difference is, of course, in the lemon. Grilling brings out the sweetness, accentuates and intensifies the ‘lemon’ flavor, and gets the juices flowing.
Vinaigrettes are, by definition, 1 part vinegar and 3 parts oil, emulsified together. Vinegar is of course acid, and oil is fat. So the door is open for interpretation. Sherry vinegar and bacon vinaigrette, horseradish/mango and butter emulsion, balsamic/honey and olive oil. The list is as long as your imagination is big. Any acid/fat combination will work. But is it appropriate?
Let’s think summer again. Big, bright, and bold flavors. Grilling, white wine, stone fruit, seafood, salads…
I am choosing a grilled meyer lemon vinaigrette because I know it goes well with a large array of dishes, is easy, and embodies the passion of creative cooking. The flavor change in the lemon from grilling alone will dazzle. Add the herbs and emulsifying agents, and again, another explosion of flavor! Add the finished product to, for example, grilled peaches, and you will have taken culinary expression to another level.
Meyer lemons are of in course in the lemon family, and are sweeter, slightly less acidic than normal lemons, and are almost a cross between lemons and tangerines. The caramalization resulting from grilling brings out the incredible sweetness of the fruit. Fresh thyme balances the sweetness with a savory herb flavor. The emulsifying agents are organic honey and dijon mustard.
To clarify, an emulsion is an even mix of two items that don’t normally mix. Take vinegar and oil. In nature, they don’t mix, rather they separate, with the oil rising to the top. An emulsifying agent will allow the mix to hold, temporally (or permanently) and usually, the agent contains high amounts of lecithin. Honey, mustard, egg yolks… these are naturally occurring agents that also add great flavor and texture to our vinaigrettes.
Grilled Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
Prep time: 10 minutes
Active cook time: 15 minutes
Makes 3 cups
3 meyer lemons
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 shallot, minced
2 tbsp organic honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
3 springs thyme, leaves only, fine chop
Heat a grill to high heat. Clean and oil the grates. Cut the lemons in the half, apply a little oil to the cut side, season with salt and pepper and place on grill, cut side down. Grill until deeply caramelized, and turn 90 degrees. When deep golden brown and slightly charred, remove from grill and let slightly cool. Juice lemons and add the juice, vinegar, shallot, honey, mustard, thyme, and a liberal amount of salt and pepper to a bar blender. Begin to blend. Drizzly the oil in, slowly, letting the emulsion form (if you pour the oil in too quickly the emulsion will break). Re-season with salt and pepper.
Vinaigrette is now down. This goes exceptionally well with delicate salads, grilled peaches with olive oil, grilled sea bass, artichokes, and so on. I will post a recipe a follow up recipe on this one later.