Tarragon

Tarragon

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Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

A profusely growing summer herb. Its long, slender leaves are often used to decorate a cold dish, such as jellied chicken, but its role in the kitchen goes far beyond that of a mere garnish.

Tarragon is one of the four fresh herbs found in fines herbes (the others being chives, chervil and parsley). Tarragon lends its tang to Béarnaise Sauce, and does wonders for chicken in any form. It can be used in salads and salad dressings, either as the fresh herb or in the form of tarragon vinegar. Tarragon may be added to pâtés, especially chicken pâté, to soups and to seafood dishes, hot or cold.

Dried tarragon is more pungent than the fresh, and for many dishes it is advisable to add dried tarragon as well as fresh.

There are two variants of tarragon: French tarragon and Russian tarragon. The former has a more distinct aroma and flavour; the latter is more bland. It is advisable to buy only French dried tarragon, and this, together with fresh Russian tarragon, makes a quite satisfactory combination. Tarragon Vinegar: Fill a sterilised glass or bottle with fresh tarragon leaves, add good-quality wine vinegar to cover and leave to infuse for 2 weeks. Strain and bottle, adding a sprig fresh tarragon to each bottle if desired. If fresh tarragon is unavailable, use 1–2 tablespoons dried tarragon to 500 ml wine vinegar.

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