Saturday, February 16, 2013

ChezCindy: Flavored Herb Salt

When I recently made Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti, I took some time to reacquaint myself with Chef Chiarello's Tra Vigne cookbook.  One of the things I like about his cookbooks is along with the featured recipes, he always provides side notes on "Chef's Tips", "Entertaining Notes", or "Wine Notes", that are helpful and educational.  I discovered a Chef's Tip for frying rosemary.  Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs.  Smelling it makes me smile.  My outdoor rosemary shrubs usually last throughout the winter, maybe getting just a bit brown.  I take great pleasure in walking out my backdoor, trudging through the snow to snip off a stem or two of rosemary.  When I saw this tip for frying rosemary, I had to make it.  Chef's instructions were to deep fry it.  I did not want to drag out my deep fryer just to fry a sprig of rosemary.  So I improvised.  I took a shallow saute pan; poured in about a cup of olive oil.  I heated the olive oil and gently added the sprigs of rosemary.  They sizzled right away.  I let them sizzle in the olive oil for about 60 seconds.  When most of the sizzling subsided, I removed them to drain on a paper towel.

Once they were cool, Chef Chiarello's notes explained that the crisp rosemary could be added to salt and other spices to make a seasoned salt.  But now what to do with the olive oil.  I hated to waste it.  I then realized that I had made rosemary flavored olive oil.  I strained it into a jar and have been using it in my cooking this week. 

So now you are asking yourself, what would I do with rosemary salt and rosemary olive oil?  The first thing I made was popcorn.  Once popped, in place of butter, I drizzled the rosemary olive oil over the popcorn and sprinkled with the seasoned rosemary salt. 

Next day, I sauteed chicken breasts in the rosemary olive oil.  They came out beautifully browned and with just a hint of rosemary.  They were delicious in a chicken sandwich. 

The oil or the salt would be wonderful with beef or lamb.  I would love to grill a steak and finish it with a sprinkle of the rosemary salt and a drizzle of rosemary oil.  That would be beautiful.  Or use the salt and oil with roasted or baked potatoes.  A drizzle of oil on grilled or toasted bread would be nice with melted cheese and honey.   

If you decide to make the fried rosemary and it's bi-products, be sure to use them within a week's time.  These are not meant to be stored for long term use.  Honestly, I can think of so many ways to use these.  Eggs, cheese, grains pastas, any savory food really. 

Fried Rosemary
3 small sprigs of rosemary
1 cup olive oil

Place the olive oil in a small saute pan over medium high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the sprigs of rosemary for 60 seconds.  Remove to a paper towel to drain. 

Rosemary Olive Oil
Once the oil from the fried rosemary has cooled, pour through a funnel into a bottle or jar.  Use within 1 week. 

Rosemary Seasoned Salt
1 teaspoon fried rosemary
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Place the fried rosemary onto a paper towel.  Gather the paper towel to close the rosemary within; rub the paper towel to crunch the rosemary into small bits.  Remove the stems.  Place 1 teaspoon of rosemary into a small jar or bowl.  Add the kosher salt.  Shake or stir to combine. 

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