Nothing against parsley, sage and thyme.
But I love rosemary. The woody, shrubby herb that has a crisp, slightly astringent quality and those warming overtones of pine aroma is versatile and should be front and centre in your battery of herbs and spices in order to play a significant role in your cooking.
A native species of Asia and the Mediterranean, rosemary certainly helps highlight those latter cuisines. It is used extensively in southern France and Italy to season grilled meats such as lamb, beef, chicken and pork, but it works just about anywhere, even sweet dishes.
On a trip to cottage country recently, I picked a few evergreen spruce tips and compared them to some fresh rosemary I had in the kitchen. The similarities were remarkable.
Rosemary can be used as a strong and appetizing marinade for meats – just combine a few of the whole fresh sprigs and let it do its work for a couple of hours in the fridge. You can also simply drop a couple sprigs into a sauté pan when you are frying some mushrooms or onions and let the flavours blend together.
Use rosemary to infuse flavour: chop some fresh leaves finely and work them into softened butter for spreading on warm bread; or, wash a few sprigs of rosemary and pat dry with a towel before letting them air dry for a few days then slip them into a bottle of good quality olive oil.
Finally, this weekend plan a roasted chicken with rosemary seasoning that is just about the simplest way to achieve terrific flavour that will fill the house with an inviting aroma and hearty woodsy flavour that is sure to satisfy the table.