WHAT IS IT?
Tarragon is an herb from the sunflower family. It’s a signature flavorant in French cuisine, that behaves more like a spice blend.
The flavor and aroma of tarragon is complex, almost like a spice blend, perfumed with notes of basil, licorice, anise, finishing with a touch of pine and grass.
If you are going to use it for vinegars, or oils, the fresh is a must! The fresher the better. When tarragon gets a bad name from chefs, it is usually used when it is getting too old, and the compounds in the leaves have degraded, and become a bit bitter. Some people, especially in France, will dump it into vinegar, thinking that the acid will cure it. Quite the opposite, it will accelerate those negative flavors!
While widely considered a European herb due to the raging popularity and major presence in French cuisine, it was actually brought to Europe during the Arab rule over Spain in the 8th century. However, credit does belong to the French who brought tarragon into its culinary status.
- Pickling spice
- Used in cream sauces
- Used to flavor liquors and spirits
- Blended with butter for breads, or to top steamed vegetables;
- Used in condiments like oils, vinegars, and mustards;
- A staple of French cream sauces;
- Applies well to meats, poultry, fish, breads, eggs, and pretty much any protein.
- Season and garnish cooked vegetables
A FEW IMPROVISATIONAL RIFFS:
- Great in American corn bread, as a side to a stew;
- Add to melted white chocolate, then dip a strawberry;
- Aromatic alternative for Jamaican spinners and peas;
- Add to almond oil, with a touch of salt for a great pasta side.
Native to a range from France to Russia, into western Asia, the majority of tarragon is grown in France. While it’s thought of as a quintessentially French herb these days, the French were late pour la fête to using it for culinary purposes. It is thought that the Mongols, in Western Asia, used it first as a breath freshener, and a seasoning. Italy introduced it into their cuisine in the 10th century, when the invading Mongols brought it there. The tarragon-mad French can thank St. Catherine, we understand, who, while visiting Pope Clement VI, delighted in the taste, and brought it to France during her lifetime, in the 14th century.
Fresh tarragon has one of the highest antioxidant values of any common domesticated herb. Total ORAC (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value for the herb is around 15,542 trolex equivalents (TE) per 100 g.
- Armoise Âcre
- Artemisia dracunculus
- Artemisia glauca,
- Herbe Dragon
- Herbe au Dragon
- Little Dragon
- Petit Dragon
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