Saturday, February 18, 2012

Soffritto... soffratto...

Potato... Po-tah-to...

We're gonna learn a useful cooking skill today on Potluck Saturday... How to make a "soffritto".

What is a soffritto?

A soffritto is a combination of aromatic ingredients which have been cut in very small pieces, and slowly sauteed in cooking oil for 15-30 minutes.


I find it fascinating that variations of this technique is used in so many cultures as the start of something wonderful.

Soffritto = Italian = olive oil + onion (red or yellow) + garlic
Sofrito = Spanish = olive oil + onion + carrots + tomatoes
Mirepoix = French = butter + celery + onions + carrots
"The Holy Trinity" = Cajun = butter + green pepper + onions + celery

And many, many more, being most common in Mediterranean, Latin American, Caribbean, and European countries.

The basic technique is to get out a heavy-bottomed saute pan, swirl a few tablespoons of oil around the pan and turn it up to medium heat. Then you toss in the veggies as you chop them. I always start with onions because they only taste better if they burn a little. (It's called caramelizing!) Next, I add the larger, harder veggies I plan to use because they take longer to soften. This would be bell pepper or carrots. Add whatever else, and do the minced garlic last because it is so tiny. Let it all hang out in the pan for about 15 minutes until everything is soft, giving it a shake and a stir from time to time.

The soffritto is the flavor base, and you can go anywhere with it! Add whatever herbs and spices suit your fancy. Start with a soffritto for some incredible sauces for meat or pasta, flavorful beans, rice, vegetables, soups, and stews, or just a delicious veggie saute to go with quinoa or couscous.

And If your family is anything like mine, starting on a soffritto is a great way to have the kitchen all to yourself for a little while. ;) Big Littles always runs away when he hears I'm cooking onions. (I love cooking with my Littles, really I do!)

Get this awesome print by April Starr from The Flourish Cafe on Etsy.

Does this technique seem familiar to you? I think learning basic techniques such as this, is how to gain freedom in the kitchen and will help you learn how to cook without a recipe.

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1 comment:

  1. Great post - its definitely interesting how many cultures use this same starting point in cooking ... I'm more familiar with it being called mirepoix, so I learned somethign new about all the different names it has in different cultures! Who knew!

    And thanks for including my print! :)


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