Bouquet Garni is a term that comes from French cuisine, literally translating to ‘garnished bouquet’. The term refers to a bunch (or bouquet) of herbs or leaves that have been tied together with string and used to flavour a number of dishes, particularly soups, casseroles, stews, and stocks. Bouquet garni is typically placed in the pot to cook along with the other ingredients of a meal, and then removed prior to eating. The remaining liquid soaked in a bouquet garni can be strained back into the dish.
A traditional bouquet garni is made from parsley, thyme, and bay leaves. However it can also include any number of herbs, including basil, chervil, rosemary, savory, sage, and tarragon. Some chefs will also add vegetables, such as celery, carrot, leek, onion or parsley stems, and even orange peel to their bouquet garni. Traditionally, fresh herbs are used in a bouquet garni however you can also make one using dried herbs.
How to tie the bouquet garni
Herbs used in a bouquet garni are most typically tied together using a piece of unwaxed string or twine. They can also be wrapped in cheesecloth, a tea strainer, coffee filter, net, or muslin cloth. For an added dose of flavour, you can wrap your bouquet garni in a piece of bacon or a leek stalk. Get creative!
- Start by bunching your herbs together into a small pile – keep the stems as these add flavour,
- Measure a length of string or twine that’s long enough to wrap around your herbs,
- Place the herbs on top of the string,
- Tie the string in a knot around the herbs,
- Cut the remaining length of twine with scissors.
If you’re using peppercorns in your bouquet garni, you’ll have to use a cheesecloth, muslin cloth, coffee filter, or tea strainer to hold your bouquet garni.
Why do people use bouquet garni?
The main function of a bouquet garni is to infuse flavour into any dish, whether that’s a soup, stew, stock, or casserole. The flavour of the fresh or dried herbs can cook with the meal and add its aroma to the dish. However, the reason why the herbs are tied together with string is to make it easier to remove them prior to eating. You don’t want to let parsley or thyme stems to float off into your dish, as it can be unpleasant to taste and can affect both the texture, look, and taste of the final meal.
How do you use bouquet garni?
It’s simple! First, consider which herbs you would like to add to your dish and whether you want to use fresh or dried versions. Fresh tastes best but dry works just as well. Gather your herbs and tie them according to the instructions above, or place them in a small sachet or muslin cloth. You can then add your bouquet garni along with the rest of your ingredients, allowing them to cook and infuse their flavour and aroma into the meal. A bouquet garni can be used when making roast dishes, soups, stews, stock, or casserole. The herb flavour pairs wonderfully with meats such as lamb, chicken, or beef, as well as vegetarian dishes.
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