Award-winning chef, restaurateur, and Prime Cuts host David Bancroft is known for his creative, and delicious, wild-game dishes—and for using fresh, homegrown herbs to give each one his signature taste. Here are some tips from the Iron Chef Showdown champion on growing herbs for grilling, and using them in your own recipes. Plus, discover an infographic where Bancroft goes into detail about his must-have herbs, making your next meal even easier—and tastier—to plan.
Picking and Growing Herbs
While buying herbs from the grocery store is convenient, it’s much more expensive—and not nearly as much fun. Which is why Bancroft recommends growing herbs yourself. For the cost of one bundle from the store, you can buy an entire live plant. Even better, packets of herb seeds are dirt-cheap and allow you to grow any number of herbs right in your own backyard. Bancroft says that growing herbs outdoors is easy. They’re easy to maintain and don’t require near the effort as many other plants. Plus, using homegrown herbs in your cooking is rewarding and gives every meal you cook a distinctive flavor that you just don’t get with store-bought varieties.
Bancroft’s favorite herbs to grow at home are rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano and sage. He loves cilantro, buy says growing it can be hit-or-miss. Namely, because it’s picky about where it likes to take root.
Using Herbs for Grilling
Bancroft believes that virtually all recipes are better when fresh herbs are involved. Thyme and oregano are regularly added to his sauces, stews, roasted meats, and slow-roasted veggies to up the flavor of each. He also likes freshly chopped basil, particularly in dishes like summer salsas. David also admits to perhaps using rosemary too often, but thinks it tastes great with just about anything. He also loves using sage in his duck, venison and sausage wild-game recipes, as it pairs well with each.
Channeling his inner cousin Eddie from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Bancroft says using homegrown herbs in your cooking is “the gift that keeps on givin’.” You gain satisfaction from growing your own food, as well as using them to create your own mouthwatering recipes.
Whether you’re growing herbs in containers or in your own backyard, incorporating them in your cooking will provide a welcome boost in flavor—and morale!