What the Heck Is Bouquet Garni and Why Would I Use It?
Bouquet garni is a fancy French term for a bundle of fresh herbs tied together and added to soups and stews. The dried version is much more practical and easy to put together. It stores well in an airtight container and needs no refrigeration.
You can use a bouquet garni in soups, stews, roasts, and on any meat you enjoy. It works with chicken, pork, beef, and game. Try a pinch in your recipes, and you'll find amazing flavors that you've never before enjoyed.
What Goes Into a Bouquet Garni?
Bouquet garni is made up of parsley and some other herbs. However, there are many variations. I've seen bouquet garni with rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, oregano, marjoram, sage, basil, and other herbs. With some experimentation, you may find other herbs that will suit your cooking style as well.
Because parsley is often the main ingredient, many bouquet garni recipes may have an abundance of parsley and maybe fewer herbs. My preference is to have equal portions of each dried herb. That way, the flavor isn't overwhelmed by the parsley.
Dry or Fresh?
Bouquet garni is traditionally fresh, but it is far more practical to use dried herbs, given that fresh is only available from your garden during growing seasons, or may or may not be available at your local grocery store. To make a fresh bouquet garni, you gather the herbs you are going to use (including the stems) and make a bouquet out of them (hence the name). Then, you take a piece of kitchen string and tie up the bouquet so it stays together. You can then use the bouquet while cooking to provide flavor. You will then remove it when the food is ready.
Dry herbs require simple mixing and storing in an airtight container. You can add them to your recipe loose, or you can use a bit of cheesecloth, wrap it around the herbs, tie it with a cooking string, and drop it in your soup or stew like a teabag. If you do this, be sure to have a long enough cooking string so you can remove the bag.
The instructions I include here for my own version of bouquet garni may be increased or decreased as needed. Since the herbs are mixed on a 1:1 ratio, you can scale the amount as required.
|Prep time||Ready in||Yields|
- 1 dried bay leaf, crumbled—per tablespoon of other herbs
- 1 unit dried parsley
- 1 unit dried basil, crumbled
- 1 unit dried thyme
- 1 unit dried marjoram
- 1 unit dried rosemary
- Decide how much bouquet garni you wish and your unit of measure. I typically choose 1/4 cup. So I would use 4 bay leaves and 1/4 cup each of the herbs.
- Add all dried herbs together. Mix well.
- Store in an airtight container.
Different Herbs to Try
You can mix up the types of herbs in your bouquet garni. Types of herbs you can try include:
- Dried sage
- Dried tarragon
- Dried oregano
- Dried chervil
- Dried cilantro
- Dried chives
- Dried garlic
Questions & Answers
Question: What can I use as a substitute for cheesecloth?
Answer: You really don't need cheesecloth - only if you want to take the herbs out. Otherwise, just leave them in. Or you could maybe use a tea ball or tea strainer.
Question: What's the best way of drying herbs for a bouquet garni and storing them in an air tight container?
Answer: Use a dehydrator to dry them. That works best.
© 2017 MH Bonham