Love fresh herb flavor, but don’t love biting down on big leaves or long stems? You’re not alone.
Sure, it helps if you remove the leaves from the stems and chop them a little finer (here’s how to chop leafy herbs a little faster), but when you’re making a stew, stock, or casserole, there’s an even easier way: the bouquet garni.
The bouquet garni is a French term that means “garnished bouquet.” Instead of chopping up the herbs and tossing them in the stew, you can create a bundle of herbs and tie them together with string or inside a cheesecloth. This removes the need to take the leaves off the stem entirely, which saves you tons of time.
When the stew is finished cooking, you simply pull the bouquet garni out using the string. The herbs will have infused their flavor into the stew, but you won’t have all those leaves and stems to worry about.
The string alone is sufficient, but the cheesecloth will add an extra layer of protection to keep any leaves (or entire sprigs) from falling off into the stew.
Of course, a little green adds visual appeal to a dish, but you can still add some freshly chopped herbs as a garnish at the end. That way, it will still be bright green and full of flavor. (Let’s be honest, those herbs start looking a bit drab after simmering in broth for an hour!)
The bouquet garni is perfect for stews like this saffron fish stew or eggplant chickpea stew, both Mediterranean dishes with lots of fresh herbs. You can also use a bouquet garni when making the homemade stock for this Colombian ajiaco soup, so you can capture the flavor of the cilantro stems and jalapeno slices without having to fish them all out afterward.