By: Ashton Keefe
Thanksgiving is a perfect time to practice using herbs. Believe it or not, it is a practice, and the more you do it the easier it becomes. Explore these common and uncommon herbs to offer guests the chance to experience new flavors.
Rosemary is one of the most commonly used autumn and winter herbs. To remove the pine-like needles from the stem, hold the herb at the very top and pull leaves downward. Finely chop and combine with butter, and then rub onto turkey or chicken or add whole sprigs inside the cavity of the bird.
Tip: Excess rosemary makes a wonderful addition to autumn floral arrangements. Your guests will feel like it’s a holiday the moment they walk in the door.
Thyme pairs well with poultry and/or lemon. This lemony herb makes a wonderful addition to baked goods. Toss crushed thyme into the dry ingredients of your favorite piecrust recipe, or include it in the toppings of crumbles and cobblers.
Tip: Whole sprigs of thyme work well as swizzle sticks in festive drinks like warm cider.
Sage is another popular autumn herb. The slightly fuzzy, aromatic leaves are warm and savory, which complements the sweeter side of pork roast, bacon-studded dishes, browned butter and dried herbs like nutmeg and cinnamon.
Tip: Pair rosemary and sage together to create a fragrant and flavorful ode to the season.
4. Fennel and Fennel Pollen
Fennel has an herbaceous, licorice scent with strong flavor. It works well in hearty salads , stuffing and dry rubs. The bulb is lighter in flavor than the pollen, which has a more pungent, woodsy aroma and taste.
5. Winter Savory
This herb is not only easy to grow but incredibly versatile, working well in lighter meat dishes such as roast, stew, poultry and stuffing. Its flowers are white and add charm to floral arrangements, too.
Most herbs need to be kept dry and warm. Wash immediately after coming home from the market and allow them to fully air dry before chopping or storing. Wrap in paper towels and place in plastic bags to ensure a longer shelf life.
Ashton Keefe is the owner/executive chef of Ashton Keefe LLC Culinary Lifestyle Services, in New York City and a frequent recipe contributor and tester for O Magazine , Whole Foods Market Cooking and Everyday with Rachael Ray.