This is an unusual dish and you won’t find it in any cookery books or restaurants menus. Why? Because I invented it many years ago for my restaurant!
The dish is light and delicious and very unique; you don’t often find Greek or Cypriot dishes containing preserved lemons or basil. Greeks are fond of lemons, we use them extensively in marinades, soups, salads, boiled vegetables, beans, fish, stews, roast, pastries, cakes, jams, syrups and many desserts. I also like to preserve lemons in brine, like they do in North Africa, although many Greeks think it’s not necessary because in Greece and Cyprus, they have lemons throughout the year and most people have a lemon tree in the garden, but preserved lemon peel gives a distinctive, mellow, lemony flavour to many dishes. You can obtain preserved lemons in most supermarkets, but they are so easy and fun to preserve yourself.

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 breasts of chicken or 6 thighs, cut into cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
50g (2oz) butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 spring onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and cut into medium strips
2 celery sticks, cut into medium strips
1 large courgette, cut into medium strips
1 tbsp flour
1 glass of white wine
1 chicken stock cube diluted with 400ml warm water
Juice of 1-2 lemons
1 tbsp honey
Half preserved lemon peel sliced
A small bunch of fresh basil, chopped by hand

Method:
Season the chicken pieces with salt, pepper and paprika. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan or a wok and sauté the chicken in two batches until lightly browned. Remove and keep to one side.
Using the same pan, sauté the sliced onions, garlic and vegetables together for 5 minutes.
Return the fried chicken to the pan, sprinkle the flour and mix gently with a wooden spoon to cook the flour for a minute or two. Squeeze the lemon juice, pour the wine and let it bubble for a few minutes for the alcohol to burn out.
Add the honey, preserved lemon peel slices and the chicken stock; the liquid should just cover the chicken, if not, add some warm water. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Stir in the basil and serve at once with roasted potatoes, new potatoes or rice.

To preserve lemons:
Wash organic lemons and make two deep vertical cuts in a cross, almost but not quite through them so they still hold together at the stem. Sprinkle a tablespoon of salt inside of the cut flesh, then close them and place in a sterilised jar. Make sure they’re tightly close together adding enough fresh lemon juice to cover. The salts will draw out the juices and the peel will soften. They will be ready to use in three weeks.
To use them, rinse the salt, discard the flesh and use the peel only.

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