J – Herb-infused oils are magical.
Typically, they are used as a finish on warm or hot dishes and release their aroma with the increase in temperature. A little like finishing salts. The affect can be subtle or powerful, depending on the herb. On a recent Sunday brunch journey to enjoy Luke’s cooking, I tried a sweet-potato hash with lardons, Fresno chili, sunchokes and mushrooms topped with poached eggs and finished with a chive-infused grapeseed oil.
Delicious. The aroma of the chives was released by the heat of the dish. Since aroma is a large part of taste, the experience was all the richer. Of course, I knew I could get the recipe … hehe.
When I asked him, Luke’s comment was in character: “That will take 5 minutes. So, what else are we doing?” Five minutes, if you know what you’re doing. Otherwise, forget it. There are a couple of tricks. As usual.
First trick. Do not overheat the herbs in the oil. Very low heat, not even a simmer. Second trick. Use really good, neutral-flavored oil. The herbs are the star of this infusion. Once we had the ingredients on the counter, it didn’t take much more than 5 to 10 minutes to get the job done.
- 3 bunches of fresh chives, divided
- 8 ounces of good grapeseed oil (Use just about any good oil you like. This one is particularly neutral in flavor.)
- 2 bay leaves
- Rough chop two of the chive bunches.
- Heat the oil on a low simmer in a small sauce pan. Add the chives and bay leaf.
- Heat on very low until the chives start to turn dark.
- Medium chop the last chive bunch
- Strain chive oil from the pan and add the fresh chives into a good blender. Discard the heated herbs.
- Puree on high for several minutes. Let cool.
- Store in an 8 oz squeeze bottle in the refrigerator.
- Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed.
The result was great.
Of course, we had to try it on Christina’s version of sweet-potato hash and eggs. Fabulous. Then, we tried dipping warm sour dough bread into the slightly warmed chive infusion. Subtle and yummy. I could also image a bit of white balsamic paired for dipping as well.
Thanks, Luke, for another great treat.