Culinary DIY: Bouquet Garni

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Bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs and seasonings added to a dish to add herbal notes to the flavor. The herbs used in a bouquet garni can be fresh or dried.

The herbs are either tied into a bundle with kitchen twine or gathered up into a cheesecloth bundle to make removal from the pot easy once the cooking is finished.

A bouquet garni can be used in pretty much any dish that uses liquid to which you’d like to add a little extra flavor.  Stews, soups, and braises are all good candidates, including osso buco, pot roast, braised brisket, beef or lamb stew, French onion soup, bouillabaisse, and cassoulet. Bouquet garni is perfect for flavoring stock as well.

Variations

Just about any aromatic plant can be used, but bouquet garni typically contains fresh parsley, fresh thyme, and dried bay leaves. In Provence, a bouquet includes rosemary as well. In Italian versions, sage might also be included, as well as orange zest, savory, celery, and leek. Other ingredient possibilities include peppercorns and cloves. According to Larousse Gastronomique, in old French cookery, a bouquet garni was wrapped in a slice of bacon!

Make Your Own

It’s difficult to find good quality pre-made bouquet garni for purchase. But it’s easy to make yourself, and you can make it on the fly with fresh ingredients or pre-make several dried herb bundles and store them in an airtight container for future use.

First, gather your ingredients. In this example, we’re including fresh parsley, rosemary, and thyme, as well as dried bay leaves and black peppercorns on the vine.

labeled ingredients

Gather everything together to prepare to tie it.

gathered ingredients

Tie one end and knot it securely. After you’ve done this, you’ll pick up the bundle and carefully wrap the string around it, winding it around and toward the other end until you have the entire bundle secured.

start to tie

Continue to wrap the twine or string snugly around the bundle. Try to keep the bay leaves toward the middle of the bundle, otherwise the leaves will crack and break when bent by the string. But if they are cushioned within a cocoon of rosemary, parsley, and thyme, they’ll stand up much better.

finished bouquet

Trim both ends of your string, and voilà! Your bouquet garni is ready for the pot!

Do you make your own bouquet garni? Do you tie with twine or use cheesecloth? What ingredients do you include? Any unique variations for specific dishes?

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