Bay Leaves - Defined with Recipes

Bay Leaves—The leaf of the laurel tree dried and used in seasoning soups, sauces, etc.; they resemble in taste and flavor, bitter almonds.

Used constantly, but in small quantities for boiling in soups and sauces. It imparts a flavor like that of plum kernels; is the leaf of a species of laurel; grows wild in parts of the South, plentiful in Florida. Sold in a dry state at the drug stores; cost very little.

Bay Leaves.—The leaves of the Lauras Nobilis, the Noble Laurel or Sweet Bay. It is the Classic Laurel used by the ancients to crown their heroes and called therefrom “ the Victor’s Laurel.” It is probably the ezrack or green bay of Holy writ. The plant contains a strong volatile oil and also a fixed fatty oil, the latter being extracted chiefly from the fruit or bay berry. The leaves are much esteemed by cooks for their aromatic properties. Dry shallots, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, etc., are hung or kept in sealed jars.


When whole cloves, bay leaves, garlic, onions, cinnamon stick, celery, mint leaves, mustard seed, pepper corns, etc., enter into any food in combination or alone, they may be tied in a bag of cheese-cloth, the more easily to be removed.

Aromatic Spices for Seasoning

Take one ounce of nutmegs and mace, two ounces of cloves and white peppercorns, one ounce of sweet basil, marjoram, and thyme, and half an ounce of bay leaves: these herbs should be previously dried for the purpose.

Pound the spices in a mortar, then place the whole of the above ingredients between two sheets of strong white paper, and after the sides have been twisted or folded over tightly, so as to prevent as much as possible the evaporation of the volatile properties of the herbs and spices.

Put them on a baking-sheet in the oven to become perfectly dry. They must then be sifted through a fine hair-sieve, corked up tightly in a dry bottle, and kept for use.

The Bay Leaf is one of the best and at the same time one of the most abused flavors. In small quantities it gives a very pleasant flavor to soups and gravies, but in large quantities it gives a rank resin like taste. Remember that half a bay leaf is the allowance for three quarts of soup stock. This will indicate how small a quantity should be used for the portion of gravy usually served at a meal. With this precaution in mind, bay leaf may be recommended as a flavoring for many sauces, particularly tomato sauce.

Savory Pork Cutlets.
Côtelettes de Porc à la Financière.

Melt in a saucepan with a closely-fitting lid two ounces of butter, and throw into it a tablespoonful each of chopped parsley and sage, a pinch of thyme, three bay leaves, and eight allspice.

Stir over the fire for a minute, then add a glass of light wine and a pound of properly trimmed pork cutlets. Cover the saucepan closely and let the contents steam for a quarter of an hour.

Take the cutlets up, drain them, and dip them first into beaten egg and afterwards into finely-grated breadcrumbs. Fry quickly and serve them in a circle.

Strain the sauce from the cutlets, skim it, and add a tablespoonful of lemon-juice to it, thicken it with a very small portion of flour, strain it, and then mix in a teaspoonful of mustard, and pour it into the centre of the cutlets.

Pork Cutlets, Sauce Robert
Côtelettes de Porc au Robert.

Take two pounds of nicely-trimmed pork cutlets, and lay them in a deep dish. Put a glass of vinegar, a glass of sherry, two bay leaves, a bunch of parsley, a small piece of thyme, three shallots, and eight peppercorns into a stewpan.

Let these ingredients boil up.

Then turn the mixture into a basin and when quite cold pour it over the cutlets. Let them lie in the mixture twelve hours, turning them three times.

When required, drain and dry them and boil them over a clear fire till well cooked; then glaze them and serve them in a circle or crown and pour Robert sauce over them.


Ingredients.—Turkey, forcemeat, oysters, butter, onions, celery, carrots, turnips, parsley, bay leaves, thyme.

This is a favorite dish in Norfolk. When the turkey is trussed stuff it with sausage forcemeat, to which add about a dozen oysters chopped up, rub the breast all over with lemon to keep it very white. Then put it in cold water, add butter, onions, celery, carrots, turnips, parsley, a bay leaf, thyme, and boil it all together, then skim it and let it simmer for two hours, or more if it is a big bird. Serve it with a good oyster sauce either poured over it or separately.

BRAISED VENISON (French, 1748)

Ingredients.—Venison, butter, herbs, stock, bay- leaf, nutmeg, white wine, lemon, capers.

Lard a piece of venison and cook it lightly in a casserole with melted butter. Then put it into another casserole with salt, pepper, a bay leaf, a pinch of nutmeg, a bunch of herbs and some stock, add a glass of white wine and a little bit of lemon, bind the sauce with good gravy and add a little lemon juice and a few capers.

You may also let it get cold in its own gravy and serve it cold with a decoration of parsley.


Ingredients.—Venison, bacon, butter, brown bread, lemon peel, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, onions, gherkins, vinegar, port wine, apples or pears, sugar, spice.

For this dish use the breast, neck and ribs of venison, wash them carefully with vinegar if they are at all high, cut up the meat into suitable pieces and cook them in bacon and butter, add a little boiling water or stock, put the cover on at once, and a few minutes later add brown breadcrumbs fried in butter or bacon fat, lemon peel, peppercorns, cloves, one or two bay leaves, plenty of onions cut into dice, slices of gherkin, and some vinegar. Later on add a glass of port and a small bit of apple or pear, or else a lump of sugar to mitigate the acidity of the vinegar. The sauce served with this dish must be rich and smooth ; just at the last add a pinch of pimento or allspice. Serve with fried potatoes.

Fillets of hare may be cooked in the same way.


Ingredients.—Hare, carrots, onions, thyme, bay leaves, cloves, salt, pepper, stock, potatoes, preserved cherries.

Take the fillet off the back of a young hare, cut it into small cutlets, flatten them out, lard them well and place them in a dish with sliced carrots, onions, thyme, bay leaves, cloves, salt and pepper, and let them marinate for six hours.

In the meantime take the remaining flesh off the hare and make it into small quenelles. Put the bones and the trimmings in a casserole with a pint of good stock and simmer gently for four hours.

One hour before dinner place the fillets in a sauté-pan with the vegetables in which they have marinated, add the stock from the bones of the hare, and simmer gently for three-quarters of an hour. When done take the fillets out and dish them on a border of mashed potatoes; decorate them with the quenelles. Strain the sauce upon some glacé cheeries, and pour this sauce and the cherries in the centre and round the fillets.

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