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May 23, 2008 12:47 PM

Rosemary Help!

I wasn't sure which board to post this under, so it's here.

I'm trying to make an alfredo sauce with rosemary, but I can never get the flavor to transfer. My method has just been to throw a full sprig or three into the sauce while it's cooking, but the flavor is never as strong as I want it to be. Is there a better way to do it? I don't really want the needles in the finished product because they're so tough, and I'm afraid of what rosemary powder would do to the texture. Can you help??


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  1. You might try simmering the rosemary for a while in the milk and/or cream you intend to use for the sauce, then let it cool and proceed as usual. I'm not sure how cooking the cream first might affect the end result but my guess is it will be OK.

    1. Bruising the rosemary really does bring out the flavor. Perhaps you can bruise and mash it and put it in a cheesecloth bag to simmer it in with your sauces. Then you'd get the rosemary flavor but will be able to remove the bag when you're ready to serve your sauce.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Miss Needle

        Do you bruise them on the branch or just the needles? Is bruising what it sounds like - just hitting it with a hammer or something? This sounds like a promising option....

        1. re: cscsman

          I use a mortar and pestle to bruise the rosemary. Just remove the needles from the branches and pound it a few times to crush it. You'll be releasing a wonderful aroma as you're pounding. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, you can use the back of a knife on a cutting board.

          1. re: Miss Needle

            So last night I ended up doing this exactly - needles in the mortar & pestle, then cooked them with the butter in a cheese cloth. It worked well, but I still want a more intense flavor. Last night I used 6 two-inch fresh sprigs from the tip (rosemary grows on every street corner here in Seattle) so next time I think I might try using some of the older, tougher needles from lower on the branches. Those may have had more time to store up the oil/resin (or whatever makes it taste so good).

            Thanks for the help!

            1. re: cscsman

              You're very welcome. Yeah, I find that if you have spices or tea are confined in a cheesecloth bag or tea bag they don't infuse it as well as if it's let loose. If you really want rosemary infused into the sauce and your sauce is completely smooth, devoid of any things like chopped onions, you can infuse your sauce with the crushed rosemary and then strain it out using a chinois. I don't like to use teabags or teaballs because I find it hinders the true flavors of the tea and it doesn't sufficiently get infused into the water -- kind of like how you feel about your rosemary alfredo sauce.

      2. Do you "bruise" the needles before putting them in the sauce? I did this for a creamed corn recipe (Alton Brown?) and the transferred flavor was almost overwhelming.

        1. This should probably come under "Home Cooking" in the boards, but whatever.

          Here's what I would do:

          Strip the needles from sprigs of fresh rosemary, chop very fine. Fry in a few tablespoons of the butter you will be needing for the alfredo until very fragrant, but do not allow to brown. Lower heat to alfredo level, add the rest of your butter and proceed w/ your alfredo making. Because you have chppped the rosemary so fine, the tough needles will not bother you (and all the flavor will be released), in fact the flecks of green will make your sauce very pretty!

          2 Replies
          1. re: butter and whiskey

            That's how I would do it too. But if you want it even finer, chop the leaves in a processor or coffee grinder. Another way to release the aroma is to bruise and infuse in a few oz.of vodka overnight. Alcohol will extract more essence than any other method.

            1. re: butter and whiskey

              I agree. Fresh, finely chopped rosemary needles aren't tough at all. Now if you were using dried rosemary, I'd understand leaving them out, but chopping the fresh up fine won't be an issue.

            2. I like to blast fresh rosemary leaves with coarse salt in my little food processor. The salt helps beat it up and break it down. It works great for potatoes--you might want to try it. Some rosemary salt AND some rosemary-flavored cream. Layering flavors!