Bouquet Garni herbal bundles can offer just the right flavor boost to recipes.
As gardens continue to offer their bounties, fresh takes on recipes utilizing the harvests seem to be in abundance, answering, “What can I make with insert vegetable here?” But what about all those herbs that continue to fill planters and smaller gardens?
How many dips, garnishes and salsas can one make? Have you tried creating a bouquet garni with some of your fresh herbs to elevate a recipe’s flavor profile? Spencer Olson, local food blogger and regular contributor to our magazine, provides some insight into the savory bundles.
What is a bouquet garni?
“It is a collection of herbs tied together with string that usually includes parsley, thyme, a bay leaf and celery,” Olson says. “But it can and should be altered based on when you are cooking. It is not to be confused with a sachet d’épices, which usually consists of parsley, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns. The main difference is that a sachet d’épices has the herbs tied together in a cheesecloth. Think: tea bag of herbs for your cooking.” For determining what herbs go best with a recipe, Olson recommends The Flavor Bible by Karen A. Page and Andrew Dornenburg. “It has nearly every ingredient and food you can think of and lists the best herbs, meats and flavorings to go with each,” he says.
What combinations of herbs marry well together?
Olson says, “A few herbs that pair well with one another: bay leaf, marjoram, parsley and thyme; parsley, rosemary and sage; and basil, marjoram and oregano.”
What should cooks know about how NOT to use herbs in their bouquet garni?
“Refrain from using dried herbs,” Olson says. “To quote the late chef Anthony Bourdain, he relates it to ‘dried sawdust.’ Fresh herbs, especially ones you’ve grown yourself, will always give the best flavor. It’s also important to note how you use them. Don’t chop them up; leave them whole and allow them to infuse in your cooking. If you aren’t getting enough flavor from them, add more herbs to your bouquet or allow them to infuse a bit longer. Also, don’t use herbs that seem to have turned color or become a little dark around the edges. This could change the dish’s flavor and make it more bitter.” Good to know!
How do you make a bouquet garni?
- Gather ingredients.
- Lay out the largest/widest herb or flavoring you use, likely a bay leaf or a piece of celery.
- Place the remaining herbs in the center of the item chosen in the previous step.
- Hold the herbs together, and wrap a piece of cooking string around the herbs, tying together the ends.
- Follow your recipe’s instructions for using the bouquet garni.
Two to Try
If you’re interested in giving bouquet garni a go, Olson recommends using it in Chicken Wild Rice Soup (one of his favorites) and French Onion Soup (a classic). Find the recipes at thewoodenspoonchefs.com.