Took a few days and a few phone calls but I found it….I didn’t even realize I needed it.
I started hunting for Chervil long after I had created my herb garden… too late in fact since there is barely any room left for even one more herb in that bed. I have become fascinated with a recipe I can’t make without it…well I can, but it wouldn’t be the same. Salted Herbes…Herbes Salées… a Quebecois condiment – which is as the name forecasts…herbs and salt, that’s it. You mince the herbs good and proper and salt the hell out of it and let them sit for a spell, draining all the fluids so you end up with something fluffy and green. One would add it to soups and stews and so forth. I have yet to taste it. There is one commercially sold brand here in Maine, but they are stingey on the herbs and it is made with only leeks, parsley and scallions; a shadow of the original recipe. Since it is a classic homestyle sort of thing, one can assume it varies from grandmother to grandmother.
from a A Taste of Quebec by Julian Armstrong
1 c Chopped fresh chives
1 c Chopped fresh savory
1 c Chopped fresh parsley
1 c Chopped fresh chervil
1 c Grated carrots
1 c Chopped celery leaves
1 c Chopped green onions
1/4 To 1/2 cup coarse salt
In a large bowl, combine herbs and vegetables. Layer a inch of herb mixture in the bottom of a crock or glass bowl and sprinkle with some of the salt. Repeat layers until all of the herb mixture and salt is used. Cover and refrigerate for 2 weeks. Drain off accumulated liquid and pack herb mixture into sterilized jars. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 5 to 6 cups.
Now any American grocery store is gonna have everything on that list..EXCEPT, Chervil and Savory..Summer Savory in fact..which I have since figured out both are annuals…and not on my perennial garden shopping list. So, I started calling around,I even had to spell them out. But I finally find a place in Falmouth who had Chervil in pots…though at an inflated price. The Savory was a bit trickier..actually it didn’t take any effort at all..i bought it by accident. I had been poking around at the feed store wasting money on end of season herbs like Pineapple Sage and Cinnamon Basil, I bought another pot of what was labeled Winter Savory for 1.49…turns out it didn’t look anything LIKE my $5 Winter Savory, so I went back and bought the rest of them…the little plastic Winter Savory label even had the Summer Savory picture ..imagine an intense tarragon with an anise backbite.
Now, that I have both of these in the ground, I am going to have carefullysave the seeds for next year since it has to be direct sewn. Seems like an awful lot of bother when I could probably just leave them out and it would taste just as good, right? I dunno, I have yet to try this delicacy, I am too cheap to spend the $6 on 3/4 of a pint of the store bought but yet I will be beaucoup dollars tracking down each and every other ingredient; I do have chives and parsley in the garden already…but i may have to make some room next year for celery and green onion.
While I was tunneling down the French Canadian recipe rabbit hole I found a number of recipes that are improved by the addition of salty herbs, because they seem to lean towards the bland without it. Right now I have my eye on Fricot a la Belette which is Weasel Fricot/Weasel stew, essentially a meatless potato stew with flour dumplings, because the weasel stole the meat..get it? ya, it’s lame, it’s potatoes, what did you expect. Here’s a link to a nice blog post with a recipe. It’s summer here in Maine, I’m hoping to have a few jars of Salted Herbs come fall to make tasty winter fricots.