Thursday, June 7, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging-Tarragon, my new friend

I don't think I've ever participated in the famous Weekend Herb Blogging event. I wonder why that is? I love herbs and can never get enough of them. Today I want to share an herb which, believe it or not, is new to my palate.

I've only ever had tarragon in its dried form. It is a pantry staple for me, and I've always used it when called for, but it's never called out to me. In fact the one time I used a lot of tarragon in something (I suspect it was chicken) I really didn't care for it, and put tarragon on the infrequent use list in my kitchen. Then in the latest issue of Cooking Light magazine I found a recipe for Lemon-Tarragon Grilled Pork Chops that looked really simple and like a perfect weeknight meal for us. I debated using basil instead, but decided to be true to the recipe and go with the tarragon.

Then, while I was sitting on the tarragon and waiting for an opportunity to run to the butcher, I spotted this post over at Michael Ruhlman's blog. It stirred up some feelings for tarragon before I even had a chance to try the herb fresh. How could this well-known author declare tarragon the "best of all herbs" and I've never had it. Something was seriously wrong. Reading through the comments, I also learned that true tarragon cannot be grown from seed, but is grown by planting seedlings. Do check out his post with the comments when you have a chance. Herb discussions seem to bring out the beast in everyone.

Back to the tarragon. In short, I am hooked. It has a bit of an anise flavor- similar to that of fennel, and not all that different from basil. If I were to compare it to basil, I would say it's much milder and lacks the bite that accompanies basil. Tarragon also has a sweetness that basil lacks. Really, it's vibrant, and adding a touch really makes a dish pop and stand out. The pork chops were really good, with only two complaints from me. The first being that they were on the salty side. To be expected, of course, since they are brined, but I used sea salt instead of kosher, and I think the excessive salt was my fault- I should have gone with my gut and used a little less. My second complaint...there was not enough tarragon! The flavor was delightful, but I wanted more of it. Next time (and there will be a next time) I will likely double the tarragon.

Tarragon. I am hooked, and now I'm on the prowl for you at the greenhouse. My kitchen will never be the same. To check out all the other herb action around the globe, head on over to Kuchenlatein, where Ulrike is hosting the 86th edition of Weekend Herb Blogging this weekend.


Kalyn said...

Very interesting. I share your lack of interest in dried tarragon. In fact I'm not sure I even have some in my spice rack right now. But I kept reading these rave reviews for fresh tarragon, so I planted some this year for the first time. Can't wait to start trying it. This is one of the first recipes I've seen with tarragon and pork and I'm quite intrigued with it. (And welcome to WHB by the way. I'm not sure if it's actually "famous" but I do love learning new things from this event, and no one is more surprised than I am that it's still going strong.)

Ulrike said...

I had no luck with my tarragon. It's recovering now and I could try some recipes. Thanks for your WHB entry and welcome to the world of herb. We see us at the summary on Sunday/Monday.

Erika said...

Kalyn I was thinking of you tonight when I made dinner! I used the last of my tarragon and tossed it in a saute pan with some baby bella mushrooms. The combination was fantastic with a grilled steak. I told Andy tonight that I'm enamored with tarragon. I must get more of it.

Ulrike I hope your tarragon comes back for you.