This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging. It's being hosted this week by Haalo at Cook (almost) Anything at least once.
I had an epiphany the other day: bay (laurel) leaves have flavor! Lots of it! With cinnamon undertones, it's really a very interesting herb! As I have a tree large enough to supply all of France for a year (or 10) it's time I started using it. While I have always put the odd, dried up, old leaf in chilis, tomato sauces and soups, I have never really considered it as a stand-alone, proper herb before. Now I have and it is good!
One most often sees and uses dried leaves but they can be used fresh, as well. They are very common in Mediterranean cooking, used in braises, sauces, stews, etc. and are normally removed before serving.
My epiphany came when I tossed one in with some plain old boiling potatoes. A few minutes later this wonderful fragrance filled the area. So, naturally, I pulled the bay leaf out to taste it. I was amazed! All these years of using it without really knowing what it did. Now I do! And this is what I did last night:
Braised Pork with Laurel (Bay)
1 pork roast
1 onion, sliced
12 bay (laurel) leaves
1 cup of white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp juniper berries
1 tbs olive oil
In heavy pot or oven with tight-fitting lid, brown pork in olive oil. After turning pork add sliced onions to brown as well. Add remaining ingredients, turn heat to low, cover and braise for 1 1/2 hours. Remove pork and keep warm. Strain juices, then return to pan. Reduce pan juices until slight thickened and syrupy. Slice pork, pour pan juices over and serve.
The long braising makes the pork very juicy and succulent. To go with the Pork I made potatoes and carrots. I did them separately only because I wanted to try this recipe…next time, I'll just throw them in with the roast for the last 45 minutes.
Potatoes and Carrots with Bay
2 carrots, cut into large sticks
2 potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 large, or 2 medium bay leaves
enough chicken stock to just cover vegetables
Put everything into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until vegetables are done and chicken stock has been absorbed. If there is any stock left, just pour it off. I included it with the pork juices before reduction.
To finish, put the pork slices on a small platter, surround with vegetables, and serve.
Thanks to Haalo for being our host. Check out her site, Cook (almost) Anything at least once for the round-up on Monday as well as her entry for Grated Beetroot.