As the cooler temperatures settle in, there's nothing like hearty, warming dishes to knock off the chill and bring on the comfort. Soups, chili, stews, oven-roasted fare, and the like, make the kitchen a warm and cozy place to be--not to mention a delicious one. I love that these dishes also lend themselves well to the flavor explosions that herbs (dried and fresh) impart. In fact, when you're looking to up the savory quotient of a dish with the least amount of effort, herbs are a game changer. Here enters the bouquet garni.
A bouquet garni (French for "garnished bouquet") is a bundle of herbs used to flavor soups, stews, sauces, stocks, meats, vegetables--you name it! Selected herbs are gathered together--in a sachet of cheesecloth or similar fabric for dried herbs and bundled with kitchen twine for fresh herbs--to form the "bouquet". The bouquet is placed in the dish during the cooking process to infuse flavor and removed, as a whole, once the cooking process is complete. And the mission of flavorful, hearty fare is accomplished.
So the next time you're looking to infuse some herbaceous goodness into your eats, consider a fresh or dried bouquet garni--and let it do all the work for you. I purchased my first bouquet garni (multiple jars in fact) during my last trip to Paris a few years ago, and I haven't stopped using them since, although today I definitely make my own! To help you indulge, below are two recipes perfectly suited for this special touch.
Enjoy & Happy Eating!