Tapping into my pseudo-Puerto Rican roots, I felt it necessary to expose you to one of the most flavorful melange of spices, vegetables and meat ever devised: sofrito. Sure, you have your run-of-the-mill roux, but there’s something very emotional and spiritual about sofrito that only a select few can really relate to. Luckily, I am one of them. I recommend putting this sauce into your arsenal as soon as possible to jazz up everything from rice and beans to pork, beef and chicken.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 bunch of culantro leaves (visit your local Latin store to get you hands on some)
- 1 large white onion
- Red and yellow sweet peppers, one each, diced (remove the seeds)
- 1 whole garlic head
- 3 large tomatoes (very important)
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 3-4 Aji dulce peppers (also found at Latin groceries)
- 1/2 pound salted pork, chopped or 1 1/2 tbsp of lard (I prefer adding at least one or the other)
Once all ingredients are chopped and diced, place them (except for the olive oil), into a food processor or blender. Blend into a finely chopped mixture, adding in the olive oil slowly; anything thing more will turn your sofrito into a liquefied mess and it has to have body in order to withstand hours of slow cooking. Once blended, you can either store your sofrito in the fridge for later use (about one to two weeks) or freeze it up to six months.
If you’d like to use it immediately (duh!), then place the freshly made sofrito into a medium-sized skillet, on medium heat, for about 1 1/2 hours. Once everything has cooked down to a beautiful sienna color, depending on how much onion you used, you can then add it to basically anything. Some of the best options I’ve had it on roasted chicken, fish and pork, served over rice and beans, and had it topped over mofongo.
No matter how you serve it, sofrito is a staple in all Puerto Rican kitchens and I promise you’d be doing yourself a favor if you follow suit.
Brian Wilder is a writer for Home Ec 101. You can also find him at Things My Grandfather Taught Me.
If you have a question you’d like Brian to answer send it to Brian@home-ec101.com.
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