Perhaps more than any other, rosemary is considered the cold weather herb, going with just about everything we eat come fall and winter. When you think about it, rosemary is impressive stuff. It lasts a crazy long time in the fridge (far more than any other herb) and it's the only culinary herb in the Western canon that we infuse into food more than actually eat.
But for such a such a powerful, unique herb, our common uses for rosemary are fairly old-fashioned. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with adding some rosemary to stock or stuffing it in a chicken to roast with potatoes. It's just that an ingredient with such potential deserves a little reinvention.
So here are some tips and tricks—off the beaten path but in no way revolutionary—for some new roads to take with rosemary (and to use up your leftover supply).
Rosemary is perfect for sweets, adding intrigue and complexity wherever it goes. It infuses well into a sugar syrup, which can then be used for a range of applications. Try it in tart fruit sorbets to replace sugar for added dimension, or in the poaching liquid for pears instead of vanilla beans. You can also use rosemary syrups as soaks for cakes: brush on some lightly-flavored syrup onto butter or olive oil cakes before frosting or applying a lemony glaze.
For a light rosemary touch, you can let it sit with ingredients to gently infuse into them. Bruise some stems in the palm of your hand and add to a citrus-heavy fruit salad. Chill for a few hours and you'll be rewarded with delicate pine-y notes accenting orange and grapefruit. Or mix rosemary with heavy cream for a few hours before straining and whipping. Plop on fig tart or apple pie.
Sauces and Relishes
Though rosemary is usually a long-steeping herb, it can be used as a last-minute addition to add mild notes to quick-cooking items like pan sauces and relishes. When making a jus, gravy, or cream sauce, toss some rosemary in the pan during the reduction. The rapid heat extracts a hint of rosemary flavor, a subtle note from an unsubtle herb. Rosemary pairs well with fall fruit flavors, none more than apple. So you can whip up this rosemary apple chutney, pictured above, and give roast pork everything it needs in life.
Rosemary and cheese are meant for each other. And almost any cheese will do. Fresh mozzarella? Pizza. Aged cheddar? Rosemary cheese soup. Stinky Roquefort, butterscotchy gouda, oozy washed-rind cheeses? Add them to the cheese plate with rosemary jelly or rosemary-roasted walnuts. Rosemary is essential to my feta confit: a soak of briny feta cheese in olive oil with crushed garlic, chiles, and herbs.
You can also use rosemary in ingredients with cheese. Try this: whip up a batch of rosemary oil following this procedure, then use it as part of the fat (cut with canola oil) to make two-minute mayo. Smear lightly on some bread and cover with grated gouda for a grilled cheese to make you cry. (The mayo's great on burgers, too.)
Your Rosemary Tips and Tricks
Rosemary's not exactly obscure, but a little reinvention and creativity with the stuff doesn't hurt our autumn menus. What do you do with rosemary?