I think one of the most difficult aspects of moving about the country every couple of years is the quick disappearance of regional flavors. I grew up on the West Coast, mostly in the Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington State and then spent the last near-two years on the Central Coast of California. And, just as in other regions of our fair nation, we had our indigenous delicacies and delights that are near impossible to find anywhere else.
One of those particular favorites was the Meyer Lemon. Until I departed the Left Coast I had no idea that Meyer lemons were a largely regional fruit, grown mostly in California. Although, to be fair, there's no such thing as a true Meyer lemon anymore, but considering that I was born well after the 1950s I'm not going to gripe too much.
Meyer lemons are milder and sweeter than your typical grocery store Eureka lemon and, sliced thin enough, even the peels are edible.
Here on the East Coast I discovered that Meyer lemons are nigh impossible to find unless one knows a grower personally.
That being said, when I left the Outer Banks after Thanksgiving with TA's family with a beautiful plastic baggie filled with homegrown Meyer lemons compliments of TA's grandfather, I had a bevy of recipes vying for their use.
I finally decided on a Shaker Meyer Lemon Tart. It's said that the Shaker's took frugality to the extreme and tended to develop recipes that utilized as much of the raw ingredients as possible to avoid waste. This philosophy is definitely employed in this dessert - unlike any other recipe I've ever seen it uses the entire lemon: peel, pith and all.
The trick is to slice the lemons as thinly as possible and then macerate them in sugar over night. It leeches a good deal of the bitterness out of the pith, though it remains subtly in the finished pie. A mandoline would be ideal for this recipe, though a food processor on the thinnest slicing blade works well enough. I imagine that if some brave soul were interested in slicing them by hand it would work equally well.
I'm too lazy for that.
I would caution that this dessert isn't for everyone. I would say that if you enjoy IPA's or other bitter things you would most definitely enjoy this. However, if you're unable to enjoy the nuances bitterness can add to a sweet recipe I wouldn't spend the calories on this pie - stick with lemon bars or some other application like lemon curd.
Whatever they make their way into, though, Meyer lemons are a refreshing departure from the harsh Eurekas available at the grocery store. If given the opportunity to substitute Meyers I would definitely recommend it.
Shaker Meyer Lemon Tart
Yields 1 9 inch pie or tart
2 portions pie pastry
3-4 large or 5-6 small Meyer lemons, sliced as thinly as possible
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg, beaten
In a non-reactive bowl combine the sliced lemons and sugar, mix throughly to coat all the slices. Let rest in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Whisk together 4 eggs and kosher salt. Mix into the lemons thoroughly. Use one portion to line the bottom of a ten inch tart pan. Pour the lemon-egg mixture into the tart pan, being sure to disperse the lemon slices evenly across the pan. Top with the remaining portion of pastry crust, sealing with a little beaten egg if necessary. Brush the top of the crust with the beaten egg. Score the crust. Bake in a 350F oven for 45-50 minutes on a foil lined baking sheet until deep golden brown and filling bubbles up through the scoring.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream to serve.
This is a nutritional estimate, regard it as such.
1 serving = 1 slice or 1/8th of tart
80 g carbohydrate
17 g fat
6 g protein