If you like French food and you want to cook like the French, you have to become acquainted with the Bouquet Garni. An indispensable part of French cuisine, the bouquet garni is quick and simple to put together and will do wonders for your food.
Plus, I’ve got some great French recipes coming up soon and you will need a bouquet garni!
You may be wondering, why can’t I just chop up the herbs and add them to the dish? Well, that’s a good question and there have been times I’ve opted out of a bouquet garni and have done that instead – chopped up the herbs and added them to the dish. But there are times when you want a smooth sauce, stew, a clear stock or soup with all the flavor of the herbs but without all the small chopped up bits. Plus, some herbs like thyme and rosemary, even when chopped finely, remain fairly tough in texture. All these reasons are where the bouquet garni comes in.
The idea behind the bouquet garni is that it allows you to infuse the dish with the flavor and aroma of the herbs without the presence of chopped up herbs. Using a bouquet garni, you can remove the herbs when you want, without having to strain the whole pot. Easy to add and easy to remove, the bouquet garni is a handy cooking tool.
Now, which herbs make up a bouquet garni?
Well, bouquet garni purists (yes, they exist) will tell you that you can only include three herbs, and only in this specified quantity: 3 sprigs of parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme, and a bay leaf.
To deviate from that holy trinity constitutes utter sacrilege.
But here’s the thing…they don’t have to know. Feel free to add more!
For example, depending on what I’m making I often love to add rosemary, one of my favorite herbs. Marjoram pairs beautifully with meat and sausage recipes and tarragon is delicious with chicken. And if you’re cooking fish, some sprigs of dill are wonderful. Or if you’re cooking game or fowl, a strip of orange peel is simply marvelous.
But shhhhh, don’t tell “them” I said that!
Gather up those herbs and let’s get started!
A bouquet garni is commonly made one of three ways. One way is to create a sachet with cheesecloth, put the herbs in it, tie it and dangle it in the pot. This method is often used if you only have dried herbs on hand. It also allows to add some extra things like peppercorns or garlic cloves that you wouldn’t be able to add to the traditional bouquet garni (see the other examples below). I prefer to use fresh herbs for most things calling for a bouquet garni.
The other way is to bundle the herbs together and tie them together with some cooking twine.
Simply gather the herbs together and tie them in a couple of places with the cooking twine to secure the herbs together.
The third method is the most traditional, and it uses a piece of leek. The leek forms an envelope around the bundle of herbs to secure them in place plus it imparts a wonderful flavor of its own.
Cut a piece of the green part of the stalk off, about the same length as the herbs. Gather up herbs together and lay them inside of the leek.
Then press the leek shut and tie the bundle together in a couple of places to secure it.
Whichever method you use, your bouquet garni is now ready to be added to your stew, soup, stock, sauce or whatever you plan on infusing with a wonderful flavor and aroma!