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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Herb and Wine Infusions....

Thanks to the Provence Cookery School the wonderful world of herb and wine infusions changed my cooking and thinking about stocks. These delicious concoctions are excellent as stocks, marinades, sauce bases and poaching liquids.

Think outside the five basic stocks: beef, veal, chicken, fish, vegetable and consider the following combinations. Do not limit infusions to only herbs and wine – add bay leaves, cloves, other spices, orange and apple peel or anything that will compliment the dish you are ultimately preparing the infusion for.

Lamb use rosemary and rosé
Beef use parsley, bay leaves and red wine
Rabbit use thyme and sweet white wine
Pork use sage, a little onion and dry white wine
Veal use sage and white wine
Chicken use tarragon and white wine
or any other herb and wine combinations that come to mind

For rosemary and red wine infusion in the above photograph with 1.5 litre yield, I used:

2 very long storks rosemary broken into 6 pieces
4 bay leaves
A handful of juniper berries lightly crushed
4 pieces of orange peel, no pith
1.5 litres boiling water
750ml red wine

Infuse the rosemary, bay leaves, juniper berries and orange peel or your choice of herbs and spices with the boiling water, place the pan on a very low heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the wine, turn up the heat and cook until the liquid has reduced by one-third. Strain infusion through a fine sieve.


As a marinade for meat or chicken: It is not necessary to strain the infusion in this case just allow it to become cold and use it to marinate meat – preferably overnight or for at least six hours. Drain meat and discard the marinade.

As a poaching liquid: – strain infusion first. Bring the infusion to a simmer and gently poach meat or fish until cooked through – do not allow the liquid to boil – true poaching means the water barely moves! This is an ideal way to cook previously browned or raw meat or fish requiring gently handling, e.g. veal or fresh whole trout.

As a sauce base: deglaze the pan after browning meat or fish to make a sauce or gravy.

As a sauce: add a few tablespoons of infusion to an existing sauce for extra flavour.

As a stock: use the infusion as the cooking liquid for stews or casseroles

Go Italian: use infusion to cook pasta and as the stock element when making risotto

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