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Working wonders with watermelon.

Pink, crisp, and cool, watermelon reigns supreme as nature's refreshment in the heat of summer.

As an ingredient, it can also have a stunning impact, as in these three very different dishes: one a surprisingly spicy but simple appetizer; the second, a showy pink sherbet touched with rum; and last, a hearty salad combining smoked chicken, black beans, pink melon, and sweet-tart pickles made from watermelon rind.

Water-melon-Lime Appetizers 1 small (12- to 15-lb. size) watermelon 3/4 cup lime juice Salt About 1/2 teaspoon liquid hot pepper seasoning

Split watermelon in half crossswise, then cut half the melon into 1-inch-thick slices. Cut slices into wedges, with rind side about 2 inches wide. Set unsliced half of watermelon on platter; mound wedges alongside.

Rub the rim of a 1-cup shallow glass or bowl with some of the lime juice. Dip rim in salt to coat. Mix remaining lime juice in the glass with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and liquid hot pepper seasoning. Dip a wedge of watermelon into lime mixture and taste; add more salt and hot pepper seasoning if desired. To eat, dip wedges into lime juice mixture; have a knife at hand to cut remaining melon. Makes about 16 appetizer servings. (To serve 8, start with half a watermelon.)

Watermelon Snow 1 cup water 1/2 cup sugar 1 piece watermelon, 5 to 6 pounds 1/4 cup light or dark rum 1/4 cup lime juice Mint sprigs Lime wedges

In a 1- to 2-quart pan, combine water and sugar. Boil on high heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1/2 cup. Let cool. Cut watermelon flesh from rind; discard rind. Cut flesh into chunks, discarding seeds. Puree melon, a portion at a time, in a blender or food processor. Rub puree through a fine wire strainer into a bowl; discard any residue. You should have about 6 cups of puree.

Combine puree, syrup, rum, and lime juice. Pour into a 9-inch-square metal pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze until solid, 3 to 4 hours. With a heavy spoon, break up frozen mixture. Beat with a mixer or in a food processor until a smooth slush forms. Return to pan, cover, and freeze until solid, at least 3 hours; or store as long as 3 months. Let stand at room temperature until the ice softens enough to scoop, about 15 minutes. Scoop into bowls or stemmed glasses; garnish with mint. Offer lime wedges to squeeze over each portion. Makes about 1-1/2 quarts, about 8 servings.

Watermelon and Smoked Chicken Salad

You can make the watermelon pickles up to 2 weeks ahead, using rind from another watermelon. 1 small smoked chicken, about 3 pounds, or 1-1/2 pounds boned smoked turkey 1 medium-size onion, chopped 4 chikcen bouillon cubes (optional) 1/2 pound (about 1-1/4 cups) dried black beans 2 quarts water 1 piece watermelon, 4 to 5 pounds Watermelon rind pickles and dressing (recipe follows) 8 cups shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce Large romaine or iceberg lettuce leaves, washed and crisped

Pull skin off chicken and pull meat off bones. Cut or tear meat into strips and put into a bowl; cover and chill as long as overnight. Put skin and bones of chicken in the center of a 2-foot-square piece of cheesecloth along with onion; tie to form a loose bag. Set bag in a 4- to 5-quart pan. (If using turkey, put any skin with onions and bouillon in cheesecloth bag.)

Sort beans and discard debris. Rinse beans and add to pan along with water. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer until beans are tender to bite, about 1-1/2 hours. Discard bag. Drain beans and let cool; if made ahead, cover and chill overnight.

Cut rind off watermelon; use to make pickles (directions follow); or discard if you've already made the pickles. Cut watermelon flesh into 1-1/2- to 2-inch chunks; pick out and discard seeds.

Combine chicken, pickled rind, beans, watermelon chunks, and shredded lettuce; mound on plates lined with lettuce leaves; spoon on dressing individually. Serves 6.--Michael Roberts, Los Angeles.

Watermelon rind pickles and dressing. Cut rind from a 2- to 3-pound piece of watermelon, leaving about 1/4 inch of pink flesh on the rind. (If you use remaining flesh for salad, keep pieces large, wrap, and chill as long as overnight.)

With a vegetable peeler, pare tough thin outer peel off rind and discard. Cut rind into 1/2-inch-square chunks; you should have 3 cups. Put chunks in a 3- to 4-quart pan; add 1 cup distilled white vinegar and 1/2 cup sugar. Bring to a boil on high heat; stir often. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until rind is tender to bite, about 1 hour. Chill pickles in the syrup, covered, at least overnight or as long as 2 weeks.

To make the dressing, drain 3/4 cup of the syrup from pickles and put into a 3- to 4-quart pan. Boil on high heat, uncovered, until reduced to 3/8 cup. Let cool. With a blender or electric mixer on high speed, beat 1 egg yolk, adding in a slow steady stream the syrup, 1/2 cup walnut oil, and 1/2 cup salad oil (or all salad oil). Use, or cover and chill as long as 1 week.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jun 1, 1985
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