The Herb Bobby Flay Wants Chefs To Get Comfortable Cooking With

Americans have been looking to celebrity chef Bobby Flay for culinary advice and inspiration for decades. Flay began his professional culinary career with mentorship from pillars of the American food scene. Indeed, Flay benefited in his early years with advice from chefs like Jonathan Waxman, Wolfgang Puck, and Jeremiah Tower. All these years later, he continues to leave a significant impact on the food we eat today. 

Of course, Flay's best-known contributions to the world of culinary arts come from his presence on television. According to Food Network, Flay first began appearing on television in 1994, and he's never looked back. From "Grillin' & Chillin'" to "Beat Bobby Flay," his numerous TV shows have made him a household name, and they've also earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In fact, he's the first chef to be honored that way.

All those years of restaurant working, cookbook writing, and television recipe development give him more than enough credibility to not abandon something he believes in. To that point, Flay believes that more chefs should get comfortable cooking with this one specific herb.

French chefs have been comfortable with tarragon forever

In a YouTube clip from an episode of "Beat Bobby Flay," the celebrity chef makes use of tarragon while preparing a delicious-looking dish of hush puppies. While explaining his reasoning for using the herb, Flay uses the opportunity to briefly climb up on his soapbox about it. He expresses frustration with people who are "freaked out by tarragon." Flay sees the tarragon as an absolute must for this particular meal and insists that people must "get over it. As he puts it, he wants people to embrace tarragon's "fresh licorice flavor." 

As it turns out, he's probably right. Tarragon's slender, delicate, green leaves provide an anise-like flavor similar to fennel. According to MasterClass, it's one of the four ingredients, along with chive, chervil, and parsley, in fines herbes. It's also the prominent flavor of Bearnaise sauce. Each of those is a hallmark of French cooking. There's one crucial step you shouldn't forget when making bearnaise sauce, but without tarragon, it's just hollandaise.

Beyond a distinctive flavor, Healthline spells out all of the potential benefits of adding some tarragon to your diet. It's nutrient-rich, can improve insulin sensitivity, helps regulate sleep, may increase appetite, and it's also an anti-inflammatory. Eastern Europeans get their dose of tarragon in the form of a popular soft drink. Tarkhun was invented by a Georgian pharmacist and it would become popular in the former Soviet Union, per Folkways. Intrigued? Try some for yourself via Russian Table.

Taste tarragon to believe it

If you're still a tarragon skeptic, you might benefit from taking a closer look at the precise way that Bobby Flay uses the herb in hush puppies. Aside from all of those classic tarragon-centric recipes, Flay's rendition of hush puppies is easy to make, and why not add another good recipe to your repertoire? 

To emulate Flay's hush puppies with remoulade, you first need to saute 'nduja (a spicy Calabrian sausage) with onions. Fold that and some crab into the hushpuppy batter before frying. For the remoulade dipping sauce, Flay combines mayo, ketchup, whole grain mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and anchovies. The final touch is a sprinkling of paprika, lemon zest, and a relish of chopped cornichons, chives, and tarragon.

Notably, Flay's devotion to tarragon extends well beyond his recipe for hush puppies. Flay offers many other options that will make getting comfortable with tarragon a delicious endeavor. Grilled fingerling potatoes with creamy tarragon vinaigrette should be a crowd-pleaser. How about a hot lobster roll with lemon tarragon butter?