It was around this time last year that I began to really like tarragon. I’d never hated it before, but I was probably somewhere between ambivalent and mildly positive about its distinctive aniseed flavour. However, an epiphany at 40 Maltby Street (ably assisted by purple sprouting broccoli) kicked me firmly into the tarragon fan club.
Maybe there’s something that’s particularly good about it or the things it partners around May and June, because it’s been in or on a lot of the dishes I’ve cooked and eaten over the last few weeks. The highlight of which was probably the strong influence of tarragon in a vivid salsa verde that was served with awesome BBQ’d black bream.
Second to the use of tarragon in a sauce for bream, though, was its role in a mayonnaise, which I both dolloped next to purple sprouting and soft boiled eggs (an alternative to asparagus and hollandaise, I suppose) and also used to dress a warm salad of Jersey Royals.
Blitzing fresh herbs along with oil is a great way to get use out of left over fridge items that might otherwise wilt and waste away. You can then use the oil to dress salads or, as I did, make a coloured and flavoured mayonnaise, carefully and slowly adding the green oil to whisked egg yolks in the traditional way.
After the light lunch with purple sprouting and eggs I decided to thin the mayonnaise out a bit with some creme fraiche. I rather liked it like this and the recipe below reflects that. Use to dress potatoes, or simply alongside eggs, purple sprouting, or asparagus. Would also be great in a chicken sandwich / salad, or with fish.
- 20g tarragon leaves
- 5g chervil
- 4g mint
- 10g flat leaf parsley
- 40 mild rapeseed oil
- 120g mild olive oil
- 6g Dijon mustard
- 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 egg yolks
- 12g lemon juice (about 1/4 of a lemon)
- 50g creme fraiche
- Salt and white pepper
Make sure the herbs are clean. Pick leaves from the stems (which are likely to make the oil stringy) and roughly chop, before adding to a blender with the oil. Blitz for 2-3 minutes so that the herby oil is smooth. You could do this with a stick blender and a small pot. Might take a bit of work to ensure you’ve blitzed everything finely, though.
Make mayonnaise using a whisk, a large mixing bowl sat on a tea towel, and your elbow grease. Or the blender. This should be thoroughly cleaned and dried before using. NB this recipe is for a 2 yolk mayonnaise, which is about the smallest amount of mayo you can make in a machine.
Whisk / blend the mustard, crushed garlic and egg yolk until light. Very slowly, start to drip the herb oil in, whisking all the time. Keep going at a slow pace (to avoid splitting) until all the oil is used. Add lemon juice to thin the mayonnaise and for flavour. Fold in the creme fraiche. Season with a good pinch of salt and just a touch of white pepper. Chill until you’d like to use it – will be fine for up to 3 days in the fridge if you keep it in a sealed container.