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Herb to Know: Chervil

A Fine Herbe for the Kitchen: This often overlooked herb adds delicate flavor and fragrance to a wide range of dishes.

| February/March 2009


  • Chevril Butter

Anthriscus cerefolium
• Annual

Recipe: Lemon-Butter Sauce with Chervil 

Chervil is an herb for the connoisseur of fine flavors and fragrances. Perhaps because of its family alliance to cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris), an infamous British weed, chervil has never been widely grown in American gardens. In appearance, it resembles flat-leaved parsley, but its leaves are more finely dissected and paler green. Its aroma and taste suggest the flavors of tarragon and fennel, although it’s much less potent than the latter.

Interestingly enough, chervil has almost no recorded history as a medicinal herb. Perhaps because of its delicate scent and flavor, most ancient people seem to have ignored chervil in favor of more potent potions. Chervil is reputed to have a mild stimulating effect (Culpeper, the 19th-century English herbalist, wrote that “it doth moderately warm the stomach”), but its main use is in the kitchen.



Although its role often is usurped by the more widely available French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus), chervil’s unique flavor earns it a place in every gourmet’s kitchen. Along with tarragon, chives and parsley, chervil is a component of fines herbes, a blend indispensable to French cooking. Chervil stars in béarnaise sauce, a variation of hollandaise. Besides these traditional uses, chervil also is an excellent complement to any mild food. Use the chopped leaves to enhance sole and other white fish, chicken, eggs and zucchini, as well as salads, sauces and soups. Its flavor is best fresh; if you plan to use it in cooked dishes, add it near the end of the cooking process.

Chervil in the Kitchen Garden



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