What is the Purpose of Bay Leaf?
Excellent question. Most people don’t think of Cooking as Chemistry. When if in fact it’s all about the chemicals in one ingredient reacting with the chemicals in another. There are many chemical reactions that occur during cooking.
A fresh Bay Laurel Leaf has little or no flavor until it has been dried to its familiar dehydrated form. When added to warm or hot liquids (especially when an acid is present, like wine or vinegar) a chemical reaction takes place that can actually turn the dish slightly bitter or sweet enhancing the flavors of what’s being cooked. Bay Leaves are often used to flavor soups, stews, braises and pâtés.
So keep using the infamous Bay Leaf but be sure to remove it before the dish is served. You don’t want someone choking on your Chemistry Experiment.
Chef Charles Knight