Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Spice University - Herbs de Provence

A Little Spice of Life
From The Colonel

Lavender in or lavender out?

Herbs de Provence are also called the French countryside herbs. Legend has it that the French farmers’ wives would simply go out to the hillside and pick these herbs to add to their dishes. The mixture that I sell contains: rosemary, thyme, savory, fennel seed, basil, lavender, and marjoram. It is generally accepted that this mixture was standardized by the larger spice companies in the ‘70’s. Every major spice vendor has their own take on what the final ingredients should be. I have had more than one person vigorously inform me (we tend to be very passionate about our spices) that lavender has no place in Herbs de Provence. I have had just as many counter that they are glad to see that I was smart enough to include lavender. My research into the creation of Herbs de Provence gives me the same 50/50 results.

Over the years there have been many combinations that have gone together to create what we know as the Proven├žal cuisine. In the Provence region Herbs de Provence are used to grill meat, fish and stews. This combination is always used in its dried form. As with most herbs, it should be added somewhere late in the cooking process so as not to lose the flavors or have the herbs turn bitter on you. The one exception is if you are going to infuse them into the oil that you will use. While it is not particularly easy to get the mixture right, it is definitely worth the effort. The flavors can be incredible. A good addition to any dish from the Mediterranean region, Herbs de Provence are also tasty added to a pizza sauce or sprinkled over game or kabobs, for seasoning salads, sauces and cheeses, as well as soups and stews. Rub the blend on a whole turkey or the breast before roasting. Rub beef, lamb or veal with olive oil and then pat the herbs on before roasting or grilling. If you are using a charcoal grill, you may wish to add a handful to the fire while you are grilling the meat.

Recipes
Herbs de Provence Roasted Chicken
Lavender Provence Pepper Steak
Herbs de Provence Pizza Sauce
Provence Onion Rings









Colonel De Stewart

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