To my mind, chives make the very best herb oil—vivid in colour (near fluorescent green in colour), the harshness of raw chive is dulled but pleasing allium notes remain.
The process is very simple: blanch then shock the chives, blend with oil, then strain, patiently. But do follow the steps carefully to ensure a vivid green, non-cloudy oil, which will work nicely as a dressing for things like onglet and bavette steaks, pan roast lamb rump, pork chops, monkfish, omelettes, tomatoes… anything, really.
Need a little more detail? Recipe below.
This recipe was taken from my latest ‘herb guide’ post for Borough Market. Read them all here.
For 1 batch (store in a mini squeezy bottle)
Fill a large, wide saucepan just 5-10cm deep with water. It needs to be a large pan to fit the length of the chives in, but doesn’t need much water as you’re going to blanch them for almost no time at all—any more water would be a waste. Put this on to boil.
Prepare an ‘ice bath’ to plunge the blanched chives into. I tend to use a small roasting tray about the length of the chives. Tip 4 or 5 handfuls of ice into the container, cover with cold water (approx 4cm deep) and add a pinch of salt.
When the water in the saucepan is at a rapid, rolling boil, drop the chives in. Push them under the water with tongs and remove them after 10 secs. Drop the chives straight into the water—cooling them immediately to preserve their (now) vivid green colour.
Drain the chives and place them on a few kitchen towels or a clean dish cloth. It’ll be a tangled mess, so pull them apart and pat them dry.
Chop the mostly dried chives into 2-3cm lengths and place them in a blender. Add ⅓ of the oil and start to blend at a medium speed. Add the remaining ⅔ oil in a steady stream and then blitz for a 1-2 mins more until the chives are well and truly obliterated.
Strain the oil through a fine metal sieve into a cup or jug. Scrape the sides of the blender with a silicon spatula get every last drop out.
The sieve will fill with chive pulp—which is clearly still soaked with olive oil. Leave for 5-10 mins to strain, then scoop out and place in a bowl or tupperware.
Wash the sieve, dry it, then line with muslin. Place over a new cup or jug and pour the strained oil through it (which will still have quite a lot of pulp in it). Once that has gone through the muslin, scoop the original mass of chive pulp into the muslin-lined sieve, and leave this to stand and strain for 1-2 hours.
Finally, decant the oil into a small squeezy bottle or old (but clean) oil bottle. Keeps well in a dark cupboard for a couple of weeks (though I tend to use it within one).