Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When Life Gives You Vodka

Limoncello is a good next recipe, because it requires a lot of lemon peel but no lemon juice. Sort of the opposite of a lot a lemon recipes.

On our honeymoon, Michael and I were steered to a marvelous restaurant in Rockland. And over many visits to Primo, we always tried to sit at one of Bill's tables. We only saw Bill once or twice a year (and if it was twice, it was twice in one week), but he always remembered us. He made us feel welcome and special and in for the best meal ever. Even though he worked in a restaurant 4 hours away, he knew more about Boston restaurants than we did and always had gossip about the hottest new places.

Bill introduced me to limoncello, and this was the perfect drink for me. Intensely lemon. Not too sweet. Icy cold.

Melissa Kelly, the owner/chef, wrote a book about Mediterranean diets which included many recipes. One of them was Primo's recipe for limoncello. I made it a few years ago, but the thought of peeling dozens of lemons, as well as the cost of organic lemons, kept me from making it again.

Enter Jed's lemon tree!

It turns out that Meyer lemons are pretty easy to peel. So the first step of every recipe has become: peel the lemon and add the peel to the container in the freezer waiting for there to be enough to make limoncello.

Primo limoncello
1.25 cups lemon peel
2 cups vodka
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

In a saucepan, pour vodka over 1 cup lemon peel. (Freeze the rest of the peel.) Heat over low heat until just warm. Remove from heat and place in a sterile jar. Cover and store in a cool, dark place for 1 week.

After one week, combine sugar, water, and remaining lemon peel in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cook until sugar is dissolved.

Strain the lemon peel out of the vodka. Strain the lemon out of the sugar syrup. Mix the vodka and syrup. Pour into a clean glass bottle. Store in the freezer.

Serve very cold. Perhaps in a glass that's also been in the freezer.


Laura A said...

Thank you for the recipe! That seems very do-able. Previous recipes I had seen had you aging things for months and I wasn't sure I was that committed to the project.

I do have one question, though. When you say to peel the lemons, do you mean peel them in the same way that I would an orange? So I have the inner white part as well as the outer yellow? Or do I need to skim off just the outer yellow zest and leave behind the white?

Lisa said...

Thanks for reminding me!

I realized after I posted that I forgot to mention the zest vs. pith issue.

You want the zest. You want as little pith as you can manage. The pith will make the limoncello bitter.

My Oxo vegetable peeler does a pretty good job. A zester is too slow. You could use a paring knife, if you have one you like.