This delightfully subtle savoury herb mixture is one of the classic blends of the French kitchen, along with bouquet garni and fines herbes.
The blend originated in the Southern French region of Provence where it was used to enliven simple country style grilled dishes. As the blend uses dried herbs, a pot was generally at hand to use as a multi-purpose seasoning, much as in the manner we use salt and pepper today. As the fame of this blend grew, herbes de Provence moved throughout France and Europe and now rightly has a place as one of the great herb blends in international cuisine.
Based on classic herbs, such as parsley, marjoram, thyme and bay, what sets it apart is the inclusion of zesty orange peel, the unusual flavour of lavender and the beguiling anise taste of tarragon. When making herbes de Provence, be sure to visit a reputable spice dealer and purchase the freshest dry herbs available. Supermarket bought powdery dry herbs just don't cut it for this recipe.
Next time you are planning a BBQ, rub pieces of fish or poultry with the blend just before cooking to give an amazingly uplifting flavour. The blend can also be used in poultry based casseroles, providing an alluring herby flavour to the finished dish.
4 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried marjoram
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp lavender flowers
1 tsp celery seeds
1 crumbled bay leaf
1 piece dried orange peel
Combine the orange peel, bay leaf and celery seeds in a mortar and pestle and crush to a coarse powder. Place in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and crumble together slightly. Place in an airtight container and store out of direct sunlight for up to 3 months.
Ouroboros enquires: tarragon rather than fennel seed?
These antiquated regional recipes are rarely set in stone. In Provence, one cook will most likely scoff at a blend of a cook from the next village. I have seen one recipe that calls for such arcana as wild thyme, summer savoury and cloves - and includes no ingredients with a forthright anise flavour at all. Sure, go ahead and use fennel seeds instead of tarragon - just keep things in theme.
My French is about as rough as a rhino´s rhumba, so I´ll present you with a pronunciation guide courtesy of the dear and daerly missed Sensei. It goes something like this - EHRB duh proh-VAWN, S