A familiar blend used by cooks in French food
Herbes de Provence is a aromatic and familiar herb blend used in French and Mediterranean cuisine. It is traditionally used to flavor grilled meats, fish, stews, and soups. Its name is borrowed from the Provence region in France, where this herb blend is believed to have originated. And, because the Provence region is also known for its many lavender fields, lavender is often associated with Herbes de Provence, particularly in the United States. However, in French food, lavender is not a necessary component of this blend.
Common Ingredients in Herbes de Provence
The following herbs are frequently found in commercial blends of Herbes de Provence:
Some blends may also include:
- Lavender (more frequently used in the U.S.)
- Summer Savory
- Bay Leaves
French cooks are known for their expertise in cooking with herbs. They carefully select the ingredient notes chosen for their Herbes de Provence blends, depending on the meat, stew, or soup to be prepared. Traditional French food is especially delicious because of its enticing, skillful use of herbs.
Methods of Use
Certain rules need to be observed when cooking with herbs. Some factors to consider include:
- Depth of Flavor
- Cooking Method
- Recipe ingredients
Herbes de Provence provides complex depth of flavor, and so should be added prior to grilling or stewing to lend its flavor to the ingredients. A common technique is to marinate the meat or fish prior to grilling with a combination of oil and Herbes de Provence. This will deeply imbue the flavors of the herbs into the prepared meal. Herbes de Provence can be added to the base of a stew or soup at the same time stock is added to a recipe. A small cheesecloth, gauze, or organza pouch can be used to contain the herbs for easy removal at the end of cooking.
Consideration should be given to amount of Herbes de Provence when using pressure cooking or crockpot methods. Typically recipes would require a lesser amount of herb to produce the same herbal flavor notes given more intense heat or cooking time.
Specific herbal notes should complement the dish you are preparing when cooking with herbs. For example, marjoram and rosemary are especially delicious with lamb, while summer savory accents fish. Aromatic herbal notes are deliciously highlighted in an Herbes de Provence blend.
See our Herbes de Provence.