Herbs With Meat Dishes

HERBS FOR MEAT DISHES: There are some general rules regarding the addition of herbs to a recipe.  This is the first of four articles that will cover: Meats, Seafood, Vegetables and Breads as general categories.  I’ll begin with herbs for Meats.

STOCK THE RIGHT HERBS: Your kitchen should have at least one fresh dried jar of these specific herbs (list at the bottom of this page).  I have all of these in fresh form that I can cut from my garden.  Whenever possible, you should favor the use of fresh herbs vs. dried herbs.  A general rule of thumb is a tablespoon of fresh is comparable to a teaspoon of dried herbs. That is about a three to one ratio in most cases

ENHANCE THE FLAVOR: The most important factor is to not over season.  You can always add more herbs to intensify the flavor but if you start out with too much seasoning it is impossible to remove the flavor from the final dish.

The purpose of herbs is to enhance the natural flavor of your food not overpower it.   Cooking with herbs does not have to be complicated, time consuming or expensive. The herb is an accent to the natural flavor of the dish.  The addition of herbs should create a great result without giving the dish a dominating flavor.

WHEN TO ADD HERBS: When you are cooking meat and seasoning with herbs, they can be added before, during and after the cooking process.  Usually I season my steaks and chops prior to grilling and add some fresh herbs to the final grilled meat.

There are herbs that do better with different recipe ingredients.  The following is a list of those herbs that have been shown to pair well with meats.  But before jumping to the list, keep in mind that this is not an all-inclusive list and just because you don’t see a specific herb on it does not mean you can’t add it to a recipe.  Depending on the other ingredients that are part of a recipe, specific herbs might be added to yield a beneficial taste result.

MY MAGIC MIXTURE: I use a mixture of salt, pepper and two or three of the following herbs depending on which meat I am preparing.  Apply the herb mixture like a rub.  Coat a dry roast with the herbs and roast the meat the normal way.   You can do this on chops and steaks as well.  The alternative to this dry method is to create marinades containing fresh or dried herbs to infuse flavor into your meats.  You should marinate meats for at least one hour in the refrigerator.   3 to 4 hours to overnight is more beneficial if you have the time.

If you are cooking stews I recommend adding the herbs to the mixture during the cooking process because it is the slow simmering that brings out the flavor of the meat.

CHICKEN/VEAL DISHES: Bay Leaves. Chives, Dill, Garlic, Onion, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme

LAMB DISHES: Basil, Garlic, Marjoram, Mint, Onion, Oregano, Rosemary, Savory, Thyme, Tarragon

PORK DISHES: Basil, Bay Leaves, Dill, Garlic, Lemon Verbena, Marjoram, Onion, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, Thyme

BEEF DISHES: Basil, Bay Leaf, Chives, Garlic, Onion, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Tarragon, Thyme

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