Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fines Herbes

One of my favorite herb combinations is the French classic fines herbes (pronounced feen airbs). It is a combination of equal parts of parsley, chervil, tarragon and chives. The fragrance is at once spring-fresh and "green." The flavor is clean with a rich simplicity that literally adorns the simplest of dishes such as eggs or a simple bechamel sauce. On chicken, it's bliss. In fact, Colonel Sanders used fines herbes in his "original" Kentucky Fried Chicken.

One tablespoon of each of the dried herbs will yield about one-fourth cup. (You can also
weigh them for more accurate equal parts. I usually buy small packets as close to the same amount of ounces.)

When I lived in Michigan, I was fortunate to live in a town that actually had a spice shop. They were more than pleased to mix me up a batch of fresh fines herbes. Now I grow my own during the summer and allow them to dry and then crumble them before putting them up in a jar. 

I avoid pre-packaged fines herbes. They often contain other ingredients including dill, lemon, and sage.

Dried herbs and spices are not cheap. When I have to buy packets of fresh herbs in the grocery store, I don't throw away what I don't use. I layer them between pieces of clean paper towel and allow them to dry before storing in small containers.

Suggested Uses For Fines Herbes:

~~Sprinkle in eggs before cooking, such as scrambled eggs. Before folding an omelet, sprinkle on top along with Gruyere cheese.

~~Add to melted butter and drizzle over fresh asparagus or white fish.

~~Add to mussel liquor and spoon over fresh mussels.

~~Add to sauteed mushrooms along with a splash of dry, white wine and butter. Use leftovers to fill an omelette along with some cheese!

~~Lightly coat chicken pieces with seasoned flour and brown in a cast iron skillet with a bit of butter and olive oil. Finish in the oven. Ten minutes or so before done, sprinkle liberally with fines herbes and a squeeze or two of fresh lemon. Remove chicken and add a bit of chicken stock or water to pan to make a quick sauce, adding more butter and herbs if necessary. Spoon over chicken and serve.

~~Sprinkle in olive oil and brush liberally on chicken breasts. Bake until done. Serve with a lemon wedge.

~~Sprinkle fresh salmon filets with a bit of garlic powder, Old Bay's, Fines Herbes, and dried dill. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until done.

Here's one of my favorite ways to use them with chicken tenders:
Crusty Chicken Parmesan Tenders with Fines Herbes

Once you are familiar and comfortable with this herb combination, you will find uses all your own!