So I decided to regress and share the secret to Puerto Rican Cuisine. Many of you may know it, but in order to help those who don’t, re-create many of my blogs’ recipes, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to go back and explain and share the success to most of these recipes. That secret is: SOFRITO (pronounced: so-free-toe).
Wikipedia gives it this definition:
Sofrito (Spanish pronunciation: [soˈfɾito]) or refogado (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʁɨfuˈɣaðu], [ʁefuˈgadu]) is a sauce used as a base in Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American cooking. Preparations may vary, but it typically consists of aromatic ingredients cut into small pieces and sautéed or braised in cooking oil.
In Puerto Rican cuisine, sofrito is mostly used when cooking rice dishes, sauces, and soups. Sofrito is closely related to recaíto. The two main ingredients that give Puerto Rican sofrito its characteristic flavor are recao (culantro) and ají dulce, but red and green cubanelle peppers, red bell peppers, pimientos, yellow onions, garlic, plum tomatoes and cilantro, are also added. All red peppers are roasted, seeded and then added to the sofrito. Sofrito is traditionally cooked with olive oil or annatto oil, tocino (bacon), salted pork and cured ham. A mix of stuffed olives and capers called alcaparrado is usually added with spices such as bay leaf, cumin, sazón and adobo.
No true person of latino background would be caught cooking any of their “heirloom” recipes without it. It is a necessary component to our signature dishes. Yeah, I’d say cooking without it would be equal to eating french fries WITHOUT ketchup, peanut butter sandwich WITHOUT jelly, pizza WITHOUT cheese, uh, do you get my point yet? GOOD! cause I was running out of comparisons.
As is the case with many things, Sofrito becomes personalized in every household and throughout the generations, the recipes may vary; therefore, before anyone posts comments such as, “we don’t make it this way” or “that’s not my mother’s way of doing it”, please take that into consideration. This is the way I make Sofrito – I personally prefer not adding tomatoes as I don’t like the acidic quality it adds to the seasoning base.
Sofrito is a one-word phenomena that stands alone so it really didn’t need this long introduction to it, but I gave it to you anyway :). So here is the recipe (NOTE: keep this recipe handy, I guarantee you’ll be referring back to it over and over again, once you try it).
- 2 green bell peppers, seeds removed
- 1 Cubanelle pepper, seeds removed (optional)
- 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed (use of red pepper is optional)
- 4 medium onions, peeled and quartered or 2 large onions
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 12 ajíes dulces (small sweet pepper) seeds and stem removed
- 1 bunch of fresh Cilantro leaves
- 1 bunch of fresh culantro leaves (if not using, double the cilantro)
- Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth (depending on the method you use, you may need to add a little water to get it moving and processing).
- Store in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator or freeze if not using on a daily basis. You may also divide the mixture into portions in ice-cube trays and freeze then remove and place them into Ziploc bags.