What is Fines Herbes?
Fines Herbes, which I always want to pronounce Fine-is Erb-is (in my lovely Wisconsin accent) is actually pronounced feen-ZAIRB (with a French accent). As such, it is a combination of herbs that are the mainstay of French cuisine. It is made up of parsley, chives, chervil and tarragon. The actual combination has been of much debate over the years. Some recipes using the name 'aux fines herbes' simply include parsley, while the traditionalists tend to argue that all four ingredients are required. Current food experts offer combinations that include all or only some of the four ingredients, some even removing the parsley.
Where can I find Fines Herbes?
Fines Herbes can be purchased dried at fine spice stores (see our favorites here) or it can be made fresh at home.
Can I make Fines Herbes myself?
Yes! In fact, fines herbes is best with fresh herbs. Chervil in particular looses its flavor when dried, so while dried is a good substitute, a blend of the fresh herbs is preferred. The mixture is generally equal parts of the four herbs, however depending on your taste preferences, you should feel at liberty to add more or less of any herb. Food scientist Harold McGee insists that the proper way to chop fines herbes is with a sharp knife, arguing that a food processor introduces too much air. Either way, you should wait to chop them and add them to your food until the last minute so as to preserve as much of the delicate oils as possible.
If you plan to make dried Fines Herbes yourself you may wish to substitute basil for the chervil. It may not be perfectly traditional, but it will give you better flavor.
How can I use Fines Herbes?
Fines Herbes is best used in delicate dishes such as sauces, soups and eggs. It is also lovely in cheese and fish dishes. Just be sure not to use it in anything that will be cooking for a long time or that is strong in flavor as this will overpower these fresh and light herbs.
Rombauer, Irma. Joy of Cooking
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