Grilled Veal Chops with Tarragon Butter; siphoning wine

It’s official: grilling season has started.

Can summer be far behind? (I sincerely hope not….)

My herb garden was a disappointment this spring.

The fat row of chives that was doing so well last year didn’t come back. A few spindly ones from a new planting slowly started growing, but it’s not providing me with the usual spring abundance.

The same thing happened with the tarragon. The old established plant didn’t come up but the new one, planted last year did. Fortunately I was able to find another plant which started growing immediately so I have plenty of tarragon.

In case you don’t know….. There are two kinds of tarragon: French and Russian.

French tarragon is preferred for culinary purposes but is hard to find. I buy it in the supermarket as an indoor ‘cutting’ herb, but plant it outside. It usually does fine. It’s next to impossible (so I’m told) to grow from seed. One has to grow it from a cutting- which is why it’s hard to find.

Russian tarragon is what one normally sees in the garden shops as the herb to plant in your herb garden. You have to look at the botanical name to determine if it’s French or Russian and it’s almost always Russian. It has very little flavor and, in my opinion, is a waste of effort both to grow and to use. It can be grown from seeds and if you see seed packets, it’s Russian. Don’t bother.

If you can’t find the botanical name you can tell by tasting. Break off a bit of leaf and chew it. If you get a strong tarragon / licorice flavor you have the real thing. If it’s like chewing grass it’s Russian.

Now you know.

The Tarragon Lemon Butter was wonderful.

Now you know that, too.

Grilled Veal Chops with Tarragon Butter

Total time: 35 minutes


  • 2 (3 – 4 if they’re small) veal chops
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tbs soft butter

grilled veal chops


  • Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and herbs.
  • Spoon half over chops and allow to marinate for 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Mix remaining half of lemon / herb mixture with the soft butter. Refrigerate until needed.
  • Grill chops on barbecue for 3 – 5 minutes per side, depending on how thick and how done you want them or broil about the same amount of time.
  • When done, top with Tarragon Butter and serve.

Print Recipe

Walking out our front door is a sensory experience this time of year. The flowers perfume the air and make me want to just sit and sniff and enjoy…. Which I do from time to time.

At the moment it’s our elderflower tree.

Yes, I know…. it’s supposed to be a bush but look at how big it is!


It’s grown a lot this spring and is now pressing up against the house.

You can just see the gate to my herb garden in the corner.


It smells so good whenever I walk under it I don’t want to cut it back…. Maybe when it’s done flowering.


I love the clusters of (more) tiny flowers. I’ve been having fun with flowers this spring.


My mother made wine every year. It was usually rhubarb wine and it was very good.

She was rather famous for her rhubarb wine….

One year she decided to make elderflower wine instead.

I was probably 12 or 14 at the time. I remember spending a Sunday afternoon combing the countryside in search of elderflowers.

She always made her wine in a 10 gallon stone crock that stayed in the back pantry, covered with a dish towel, as it ‘worked’ (fermented).

To be honest, I never paid much attention to her wine-making. It was just part of what she did every year and I had better things to do, being a teenager and all.

I do remember coming home one afternoon to find her sitting on the floor, with a silly smile and a rubber hose.

The elderflower wine was finished and she was bottling it. She kept her wine in gallon jugs in the cellar. In order to get the wine from the stone crock to the gallon jugs she used a siphon.

In case you don’t know how to use a siphon – one sucks the liquid up into the tube then inserts the tube into the container to be filled, which is normally at a lower level. Once started, the flow continues.

She was having trouble getting the flow started and had swallowed a bit of wine in the effort.

Every time I walk to my herb garden and smell the elderflowers I remember my very proper mother, sitting on the floor, grinning, waving a rubber hose at me…..

Last update on May 16, 2016

6 thoughts on “Grilled Veal Chops with Tarragon Butter; siphoning wine”

  1. Your spring photos are beautiful. I’ve never smelled an elderberry flower but I almost can smell yours! I am enjoying your recipes with tarragon. In order to enjoy the fresh tarragon (it refuses to grow for me) I made a tarragon butter and keep it in the freezer to use as needed. Love all your recipe suggestions.

  2. I envy you having an Elderflower tree/bush. Ours had to go because it was too close to the barn and hangar and we weren’t there long enough to prevent it damaging the roof. It took so long and so much effort to kill it completely my husband does not want one near! I will have to find a source of flowers and berries once we are there.
    I loved the story of your mother. It also brought back memories of sampling the homemade wines of one of our Pharmacog group after afternoon labs!

  3. I loved the elderflower/mother story ! Maybe you can make your fortune doing homemade wine. With that abundance of flowers you could open a boutique winery !

    • LOL I can just see your smiling mother on the floor.
      What a great memory when you smell the flowers.

  4. Carol, freezing tarragon butter – great idea! Adds a little spring in winter. And thanks for the kind words.

    Gill, now that I realize what it is I see them everywhere. You will have no problems finding lots. My mother was convinced her wine evaporated…. Nothing to do with her 4 children, nothing at all….

    Zoomie, thanks. I miss her wine…. and her…

    katew, I think I have her recipes somewhere…. Now to find a big stoneware crock here in the middle of French farm country… Hmmm

    Bob, in a dress, of course, she never wore pants when I was younger lol. Wouldn’t have been proper.

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