There are three principal ways to use herbs to enhance grilled foods:
1. Very tender herbs such as dill, basil, tarragon and chives are excellent cut finely and sprinkled onto freshly grilled foods, or prepared as a Herb Butter to top off meats and fish just off the grill.
Herb Butter Recipe
Soften one stick of butter to room temperature. Work in 2-3 tablespoons of your favorite herb with a dash of lemon juice. Add a minced clove of garlic, if desired, and freshly ground pepper to taste. It's okay to substitute olive oil for some of the butter.
Dill butter is excellent as a fish topper, tarragon and/or dill for chicken, parsley and chives for hamburger, rosemary butter on steaks, so many possibilities! Herbal butters can also be served with a good bread.
2. Herbs make a splendid addition to marinades. Here is a very good one for skewered chicken: (This also works well on pork chops)
Lemon & Thyme Marinade
½ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves -if very tender, chop stem and all
(or substitute dried thyme)
Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks or strips and marinate for 6 to 24 hours, turning occasionally. Thread onto skewers and grill until done, 10 minutes or so, turning once. The leftover marinade can be boiled down quickly and applied as a sauce when chicken is removed from the grill. Add a bit of olive oil if necessary. Special note: soak larger rosemary branches in water and use as skewers!
3. A third method is to prepare an Herbal Rub applied to the meats before grilling.
Simple Rub: sprinkle soy sauce, garlic powder, finely cut rosemary leaves or thyme, and a bit of olive oil (especially for lean meats). Let sit in the refrigerator for several hours.
Tuscany Rub: Chop together ¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves, ¼ cup parsley, 4 sage leaves, 2 Tablespoons each of fresh oregano, coarse salt, and cracked black pepper, 2 cloves garlic. Add ½ cup olive oil. Rub onto meats and refrigerate several hours. This will form a tasty crust as the meats are grilled.
Grilling is best using real hardwood charcoal and/or wood chips with a chimney starter.
Credit: Gail Pierson Cromwell of The New England Unit, Inc. of The Herb Society of America, Inc. Written as a theme garden handout. 2002 Herb Plant Sale