It’s important to remember that the strength and intensity of different herbs and spices can vary, so it’s best to start with a small amount and adjust to taste.
When to add herbs during the cooking process
As a general rule, you should add fresh herbs to soups and stews towards the end of the cooking process, as heat can cause their flavors to dissipate. If you add them too early, the flavors will diminish and may be less noticeable in the finished dish.
One exception to this rule is if you are using woody herbs, such as rosemary or thyme, which have a more robust flavor that can withstand longer cooking times. In this case, you can add them at the beginning of the cooking process to allow their flavors to infuse into the dish fully.
Dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor than fresh herbs so they can be added to stews at the beginning of the cooking process. This will allow their flavors to infuse into the dish as it cooks fully.
If you are wondering whether you should use a fresh or dried read these tips on using dried versus fresh herbs
Some Spices and Herbs for Beef Stews and Chicken Stews
- Basil pairs well with a variety of ingredients, including tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil. Basil has a sweet, slightly pungent, and aromatic flavor that is often described as similar to licorice or anise. Basil is also a key ingredient in many traditional spice blends and is often used to add flavor to soups and stews.
- Black pepper adds a pungent, slightly spicy flavor to stews and pairs well with a wide range of meats and vegetables.
- Caraway seeds have a slightly bitter, anise-like flavor that works well in stews. Add the seeds at the beginning of the cooking process, along with the other ingredients. This will allow them to infuse their flavor into the stew as it cooks.If you prefer a more subtle flavor, you can add the seeds towards the end of the cooking process, just before serving. This will allow their flavor to be more prominent and less muted by the other ingredients.
- Cardamom is a sweet, slightly floral flavor that can add a touch of sweetness to stews.
- Coriander has a bright, citrusy flavor that pairs well with stews.
- Cumin has a warm, slightly earthy flavor that can add flavor depth.
- Garlic adds a bold, savory flavor to stews and is a key ingredient in many dishes.
- Marjoram has a sweet, slightly floral flavor.
- Nutmeg is a spice with a warm, slightly sweet flavor that can add depth to stews. It works well in beef, chicken, or vegetable stews.
- Oregano has a robust, savory flavor that works well in stews and other slow-cooked dishes. It pairs particularly well with tomato-based stews.
- Paprika adds a warm, slightly sweet flavor to stews and is often used to add depth and complexity to the flavor profile. One of my favorite stews using paprika is this Paprika Beef Stew.
- Parsley has a fresh, slightly sweet flavor that can add balance.
- Thyme has a woody, savory flavor that pairs well with a wide range of meats and vegetables. It can be used fresh or dried in stews.
- Rosemary: Rosemary has a strong, pungent flavor that can hold up to long cooking times. It pairs well with lamb, beef, and other hearty meats.
- Tarragon has a distinctive, anise-like flavor with a slight bitterness. It is often described as slightly sweet and licorice-like, with hints of fennel and anise. The tarragon flavor is quite strong and distinct, so it is often used in small amounts as a seasoning in various dishes. It pairs well with chicken, fish, and other seafood, as well as vegetables like tomatoes and asparagus. Tarragon is also often used to add depth and flavor. This Tarragon French Stew is always a hit when served.
- Turmeric: This spice has a warm, slightly bitter flavor that can add depth and color to stews.
I would love for you to share your favorite spices and herbs in the comments section!
Depth of flavor refers to the complexity and richness of the flavors in a dish. A dish with a depth of flavor typically has a balanced, nuanced flavor profile that includes a range of complementary and contrasting flavors.
When a dish has balanced flavors, it means that the different flavors present in the dish are in harmony with each other, and none overpower the others.
Mixing different ingredients, such as vegetables, meats, herbs, and spices, can help create a well-rounded, balanced flavor profile. Proper seasoning is also key to achieving balanced flavors.