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The Mediterranean is a land famous for its beautiful sights, healthy diet and flavors. Many of those flavors stem from herbs native to this region like basil, mint, parsley, rosemary and thyme. With this abundace of herbs, it's no wonder cooks have developed creative ways of incorporating them into their dishes.
One of the secrets to adding flavor to soups, stocks and sauces is the bouquet garni, a bundle of herbs wrapped in a cheesecloth that is added to the pot and later removed. This is no secret to the French, after all, they are credited with inventing this particular technique and countless other classic cooking practices.
But what are the ingredients in a bouquet garni? The classic French method of making this ''garnished bouquet'' varies on the cook. When I attended culinary school, I was instructed to bundle parsley stems, thyme, a bay leaf and black peppercorns. However, you can tailor the bouquet garni to suit your needs. Some people add sage, basil, rosemary or tarrragon. Personally, I include cilantro stems in a bouquet garni when cooking beans Latin style.
So now that you know what goes in a bouquet garni, how do you actually make one? The process is very simple. Just cut a piece of cheesecloth big enough to fit the herbs you've selected. Lay your herbs in the center of the cheesecloth and wrap the remaining cloth around them. Now tie it with some kitchen twine, remembering to leave a piece of string long enough so you can tie the bundle to your pot handle. If you don't have any twine on hand you can tie the cheesecloth into a little sachet and use a ladle to remove it from the pot. You see? Mastering a classic French technique is that easy. Now you can make a bouquet garni with your own combination of Mediterranean herbs.