Herbes de Provence or "Provencal Herbs" is a mixture of common herbs that are ground together and sold or stored in a single jar. This is not a mixture that has been used for centuries but a rather new blend of herbs created in southern France in the 1970s. What herbs you ask? Well that is the tricky part of the situation. The recipes for Herbes de Provence vary and can be the cause of great discussion and even argument among professional chefs.
A recipe that appears frequently on the internet suggests using the following herbs and spices:
Thyme, oregano and marjoram seem to be included in everyone's mixture of Herbes de Provence, but some individual herbs like chervil, savory, basil, mint, bay leaves, rosemary and fennel may be included in some versions of this complex seasoning and not in others. What can cause the greatest debate is the inclusion of dried lavender in the mixture. Some chefs believe lavender is unnecessary in the mixture; others believe it isn't desirable in Herbes de Provence; while a third faction swears that without lavender, you have a collection of dried herbs but not the neoclassic seasoning called Herbes de Provence.
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon chervil
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon summer savory
1 teaspoon lavender
1 teaspoon tarragon
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon mint
2 powdered bay leaves
Grind together and store in a cool dry place.
Easier than making your own is to purchase Herbes de Provence at your local grocery store or buy it from a specialty spice store.
This mixture is fantastic on just about any meat, fish, and vegetable or in any soup. Roast new potatoes with a healthy tablespoon of Herbes de Provence and 1/4 cup olive oil on 425 for about 35 minutes for easy gourmet tasting potatoes.
Herbes de Provence is wonderful in scrambled eggs; mixed into butter it becomes a delightful spread for toasts or crackers and is often just sprinkled on prepared food as a condiment.
It may sound unusual, but Herbes de Provence is often used in baked goods like scones, muffins, crepes or waffles. A savory scone, muffin, crepe or waffle can be paired with creamed chicken, broiled salmon, sauted vegetables and cheeses both hard and soft for example.
Dumplings seasoned with Herbes de Provence turn a plain beef stew into a French-tasting delicacy. A chicken pot pie baking in the oven with a crust sprinkled with this herb mixture fills the house with an aroma that makes one's mouth water. Even the youngest family members will comment on the wonderful kitchen smells and ask, "When are we eating?"
The most unusual use of Herbes de Provence I ever saw was in a magazine I read about ten years ago. The recipe was for a homemade ice cream cones that had no sugar in the recipe but did have two teaspoons of Herbes de Provence. Once the cones were baked and then curved around a cone-shaped mold, they were left to cool completely.
Once cooled, they were filled with chicken salad, shrimp salad, ham salad and tuna salad and wrapped in plastic for a wonderful portable lunch suitable for a walk in the park, a day at the beach or just a fun presentation for old standby lunch salads.
Herbes de Provence has such a pleasant savory flavor, it will give additional zip to just about any food you choose to use it in or on.