Latin ingredient of the week: Sofrito (EXCLUSIVE RECIPE)
Sofrito is an interesting Latin ingredient of the week to showcase because it is as much a recipe as it is an ingredient. It's typically made up of three key ingredients (onions, peppers and garlic) and includes various spices and oftentimes tomato sauce to make it complete.
However, it's also a key ingredient in many Latin dishes, including almost everything I can remember from my abuelita's kitchen. Practically every single Cuban recipe I made growing up (or watched my mother or grandmother make) involved sofrito. Making it to include in many recipes is easy, but my abuela did have one BIG rule about how to make a delicious Cuban sofrito.
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How to Make Abuelita's Sofrito
1 large white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
In a large skillet, heat a little bit of olive oil. Toss in the chopped onion, then stir with a wooden spoon until it has started sweating and slightly golden (about 5 minutes). Add the chopped bell peppers, then let cook until softened (also about 5 minutes). Finally, add in your garlic and stir until garlic is slightly golden. That's it!
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The key to sofrito is the order in which you cook the ingredients. My grandmother ALWAYS emphasizes that you need to cook the onion, then the peppers, and then the garlic. If you add in the garlic too soon, it will burn and taste disgusting.
Of course, there's more to sofrito than all this: there's cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, tomato paste, and more. However, this is where you start. This is where I start, at least. Everything else I can add in later--but this is the base that I work from whenever making a dish.
To store, this cooked mixture can last about a week in the refrigerator and a couple of months in the freezer. I typically divide spoonfuls into ice trays and free it this way, so that when I need it, I can simply throw in a couple frozen sofrito cubes into the pan to cook before adding the rest of the ingredients for my meal. Make a large batch and enjoy it in all of your favorite dishes!
Image via Emily Barney/flickr