For years, and I mean many years, I’ve been trying to find a recipe from Mario Batali, one that I am sure I watched him prepare on live TV probably mid 90’s. Google searches, cookbook searches, nothing ever gave me the recipe I remember. At some point I started to doubt myself. Did I really see him make it? Maybe I dreamed the whole lemon (literally) thing.  Tired of this inner battle, I decided to come with a recipe myself. And I am here to tell you, it worked like a charm! I’ve made this marinade three times over a period of two weeks. Love it. If you are into citric flavors, consider this my gift to you…

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 whole lemons, washed, cut in four pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or to taste)
2 teaspoons honey (or agave nectar, or maple syrup)
salt and pepper to taste
pork tenderloin, butterflied

Place all ingredients (except pork, obviously) in a food processor or blender. Blend until reasonably smooth. You will have the lemon pieces still pretty evident.  Don’t worry about it.

Add the meat into a bag, cover with the marinade and leave it for a few hours in the fridge or for one hour at room temperature.

Scrape most of the marinade off, season the meat lightly with a bit more salt and grill until cooked the way you prefer. We like our pork beyond medium-rare, so we go for a total of 16 minutes on a super hot grill.

Allow the meat to rest, cut in thin slices and serve.


to print the recipe, click here

A peek inside the blender

Comments: This is a hit of lemon like no other. I’ve used both food processor and blender to make it, not sure which one I prefer. They both worked well, I think the blender is easier to clean, but make sure yours can handle the job of dealing with a whole lemon. Our Vitamix doesn’t even blink. Not that a blender has eyes, but oh, well. Figuratively speaking. On the third time making this marinade, I used one lemon and one lime. You can see the specks of lime green in the photo above. It brightens up the flavor even more, but I advise you to start with lemons alone and see how you like it. As if you are cooking Mexican food, go for the Serrano first, to see if you can handle the  Habanero… 😉

I also used the exact same marinade on chicken thighs. The method is my default. Skin down on a roasting pan covered with aluminum foil for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 300 F, then flip the pieces over, remove the foil and increase the temperature to 400 F until the skin is all brown.  A final encounter with the broiler if you are so inclined.

We really love the intensity of the lemon flavor in this preparation. Quite evident, particularly in the pork tenderloin.  I know this will be in our constant rotation, as both types of protein (pork tenderloin and chicken thighs) are favorites, I make each once per week, almost without fail.  For the pork, I can make the marinade at lunch time, leave the meat in the fridge and have dinner ready in less than 30 minutes. Chicken thighs are usually a weekend thing, but come to think of it, if I adapt it for sous-vide, that too can be at our table on a weeknight. Stay tuned!

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  1. What a lovely across-the-Pond gift on a Sunday evening! Basically the difference obviously lies in the rind as most of us use variations on the theme as far as the rest goes. Must try the agave nectar also as we do not use it oft in Australia. Have chicken thighs at home: they’ll immediately get the lemon/lime ‘treatment’ for tomorrow’s lunch for few friends/ Absolutely certain ahead of time we’ll savour fully! Thanks !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • wonderful! I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did, Phil in particular was crazy about the pork tenderloin with the lime-lemon marinade. Very flavorful. You can certainly add any sweetener you like, I do it for the grill marks more than taste.


  2. Well, I think i might actually have contributed to your dream. In fact, I’m re-posting my whole lemon dressing soon, from 3 years ago, because I thought it was so unique. And you commented on it. I saw Carla Hall make it years ago, but I’m sure she’s not the only person who’s made it, of course. I’ve only done it as a dressing, not as a marinade. A great idea!

    Liked by 1 person

    • no, no chili – I just mentioned the chili (serrano versus habanero) as analogy to the lemon-lime

      but you know what? A chili would be awesome in it….. you just made my sauce even better!!!!!


  3. You have no idea how often we eat chicken — mostly leg quarters and bone-in skin on thighs, and sometimes wings, and now and again a whole spatchcocked chicken. Always looking for ways to make it more interesting and changing up the flavors a bit. With this post you gave me a 2-for: the whole lemon marinade and your method for oven roasted thighs. Right now everything is still on the grill so that’s how the marinade will be tried first but soon the oven will be pressed back into service and your roasting method will be used, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oh, that is such a nice comment to read! excellent! As to the roasting method, if you have the extra time, it is a winner indeed. I sometimes will do the low temp roasting early in the morning, place the pan in the fridge and finish at dinner. Haven’t done that in a while, but it works well…


  4. I make a salad dressing using an entire lemon, and the juice from a second lemon. So good for us! It is one of my favorite dressings, not only to eat, but to make. Love, love, the odor when I am chopping the entire lemon to a pulp.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sally, as I was reading the blog post two things came to mind- the roasted lemon vinaigrette recipe I got from you–using Meyer Lemons–yum; and the possibility of adapting to sous vide! Great minds………! Thanx for inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

    • well, now that you are part of the Great Ladies Who Sous-Vide…. I know you will be running wild with adapting recipes… fun, isn’t it? I say life is too short to say no to a gadget… (wink, wink)


  6. I just made this for the first time and I’m purring. CANNOT WAIT to make it again for chicken. I used LOTS of cracked black pepper in the marinade and it bounced beautifully off the lemon. AWESOME recipe, Sally!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Whole lemon dressings and experiments.. | foodbod

  8. I just used this on lamb and it was very good. I had a whole rack which I cut into 4 double chops. My lemons were small and there was more than enough marinade. I might use just one lemon next time, especially if it is large. I replaced the dijon with about a tablespoon of fresh oregano leaves and added a small clove of garlic. Lamb + lemon + + oregano + garlic (unless you dislike garlic) = yum. Thanks for a great recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi, it’s jill again. Just made this AGAIN for the zillionth time. We LOVE this, and it’s nice to slice and take to work for lunch. Pork tenderloin is one of my son’s favorite things,and this recipe NEVER disappoints. Thank you again, Sally.


    • So nice to know! Yes, it is a constant in our rotation because it is just so lemony, and so easy to put together…. glad it works for you too! (I just had a comment a couple of days ago hammering one of my recipes for mahi mahi, made me feel a bit bad, so order of the universe is restored through you!)


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