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I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Herbes de Provence - medicinial or tasty

Because of the winter weather, I cleaned out the freezer in the garage without concerns for thawing.  If you can leave the freezer door wide open for 25 minutes without it coming on, you know it's cold in the garage!  After getting rid of a ton of old items, I uncovered some frozen chicken that was only a month into storage (and thus fair game for dinner!). 

Cooking Light inspired a dish of sauteed chicken with Herbes de Provence.  The original recipe called for "fines herbes" which are parsley, thyme, tarragon, and chervil.  Not having those items all handy (darn chervil!), I thought I could take the concept of an herb-crusted piece of chicken and make it more French-inspired (rather than Mediterranean). 

What I did have were Herbes de Provence (Provencal herbs).  Traditionally, it has savory, fennel, basil, and thyme, but for some inane reason the American herb blend has lavender as well.  I love the smell of lavender, but it's a tad medicinal as well.

I used about a teaspoon per chicken breast (about 6 oz each) of the Herbes de Provence, just sprinkled it on, along with salt and pepper.  I sauteed it in a pan with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat for about 12 minutes, turning after 7 minutes.  It browned up nicely and the toasting of the spices via the saute mellowed and enriched the flavor.

I served it with a side of orzo pasta mixed with some butter and I added some more herbes to that.  That's where I missed the mark.  Where the sauteeing of the chicken mellowed the herbs, mixing it into the pasta intesified the pungency of the lavender in the herbs.  That was just a bit over-the-top - if smell is 90% of taste, I tasted Vick's vapo-rub and I would not do that again.  It was still edible, but just maybe too intense. 

So, the verdict is - make your own Herbs de Provence and consider leaving out the lavender to start.  Do consider this dried herb blend for a nice chicken saute - it's a great flavor to expand your palette.

Herbs de Provence seasoning blend:
1 1/2 teaspoons Savory
1/4 teaspoon Fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon Basil
1 1/2 teaspoons Thyme

Mix spices and store in a cool, dry place.  Try it in a chicken dish!

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