Bouquet garni

STORY

Make these simple, fragrant and game changing bundles to add to soups, stews and sauces and even fragrant herbal teas. Bouquet garni or “garnished bundle” as it translates from French to English are bundles or packages of herbs tied together or rolled into a ball and tucked into cheesecloth or even a tea strainer. Bouquet garni is added to broths, stews and liquids to add deep flavor and is removed prior to serving the dish. While there is no one recipe for a bouquet garni most French recipes use thyme, bay leaf, parsley, and often times have the addition of basil, chervil, rosemary and tarragon depending on the protein or liquid it is flavoring.

Pictured here I am making simple bundles of herbs using thyme, rosemary and parsley and a few Italian versions by adding oregano. I make several bouquets at a time, pop a couple into the refrigerator to use for the week and then freeze several to use later in the season. This works especially well during late fall when we have an abundance of herbs that need to be harvested before the deep freeze of winter arrives. These make wonderful hostess gifts too.

Ingredients

* Several bundles of your favorites herbs, rinsed and dried
* Twine,
* Sharp scissors
* Cheese cloth or tea/spice bags, optional

1. Rinse and dry the herbs well.
2. Separate each herb into piles according to the flavor profile you desire. Use 4-5 sprigs of each herb and group the different herbs together.
3. Cut a piece of string long enough to wrap around the bundle a few times.
4. Wrap the herbs tight enough so they stay in tact during cooking and simmering but not so tight as to rip the delicate sprigs and then tie a tight bow, snip all but about an inch of the twine on each side so you can easily grab the bouquet when you are ready to remove it. If using cheese cloth, no need to tie the herbs. Instead, cut a piece of the cheese cloth about twice the size of the herbs and roll the herbs into a ball and place it in the middle of the cloth. Gather up the sides and tie with twine around the gathered sides to create a neat bundle. As above, be sure to leave enough twine to easily pull the package from the liquid.
5. When the dish is finished cooking or simmering, remove the Bouquet garni with a spoon and wring out any remaining liquid back into the dish.

Here are some flavor combinations to try. The combinations are endless.

* Classic French: thyme, bay leaf and parsley

* Italian: oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil

* Chicken: tarragon, thyme and basil

* Beef: rosemary, thyme, parsley, bay leaf

* Fish: tarragon, lemon balm, thyme

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