Parsley

Parsley

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From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Surely the most popular and most widely grown herb; indeed, it is one of the essential herbs in the kitchen. Sprigs of parsley are part of a bouquet garni; fresh parsley is one of the ‘fines herbes’ (together with tarragon, chives and chervil); and parsley stalks are used for flavour in a court bouillon.

Parsley is a biennial herb, which means that it will yield for two years. It is easily grown from seed, and a parsley patch will be self-perpetuating if some plants are allowed to go to seed each year.

The principal varieties of parsley are the curly-leaved and flat-leaved, or Italian, parsley. The latter is usually more flavoursome, and is recommended for Mediterranean dishes such as tabouleh, while the curly-leaved parsley is often more attractive as a garnish.

Parsley is rich in vitamin C and minerals, and is said to be one of the best natural tonics. It is also said that chewing parsley can get rid of, or at least hide, a garlicky breath.

Small amounts of chopped parsley add flavour interest to mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, scrambled eggs, omelettes, sauces, stuffings and salads. In large quantities, it goes into tabouleh and the jellied ham of Burgundy, jambon persillé (see Gelatine).

See also Coriander.

Basic preparation:

To chop parsley by hand: Wash parsley and dry in a cloth. Use a chopping board large enough to allow parsley to scatter a bit. Using a good cook’s knife, hold blade at both ends and, keeping pointed end on the board, chop with rapid up-and-down movements. Sweep parsley together and repeat until it is all chopped to desired fineness. Put parsley into a cloth and wring well to remove excess moisture – this ensures that it will not clump when sprinkled.

To chop parsley in a food processor: The food processor makes it easy to have chopped parsley always on hand – it is a good idea to chop about 30 g at a time and store it ready to give instant colour and added nutrition to many dishes.

Do not wash parsley before chopping. Put into processor, fitted with steel blade, and process by switching rapidly on-off, on-off, until chopped to desired fineness. Wash in a sieve, put into a cloth and wring well to dry.

To store parsley: Wash and dry well, then wrap loosely in kitchen paper towels and store in a tightly closed plastic bag, with some air left in it, in the refrigerator. Best used within 1 week. Or freeze, chopped, in plastic bags or tubs, for up to 6 months.

Fried Parsley Garnish: Allow 2–3 sprigs per person. Wash and dry parsley sprigs between paper towels. Drop into very hot oil and fry very quickly, about 3 seconds – they should be crisp but not burnt. This is easy to manage if you place parsley in a sieve. Use as a garnish for fried fish and seafood.

Persillade Garnish: A mixture of finely chopped parsley and garlic or shallot added to pan-fried meat, fish or vegetables just before serving. This garnish is typical of southern French cuisine. Mushrooms, zucchini (courgette) rounds, sliced squid and lamb chops all take well to a persillade treatment.

Parsley Sauce: Add very finely chopped parsley to a Béchamel (p. 648) or Velouté Sauce (p. 649). Use with salted pork, corned beef or lamb, steamed fish, hard-boiled eggs or chicken.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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