Hola! Today I am going to teach you how to make sofrito. What is sofrito? Go ahead and pronounce it out loud. Nobody’s listening. If you sound like a nonchalant corn chip, you’re saying it all wrong. First rule of thumb: sofrito is not sofrito if you don’t pronounce it correctly. Let’s say it together. “SO- FRRRRREE- TOH” Roll that R! Feel sexy while you’re saying it! There you go! You got it!
Sofrito is a Puerto Rican staple. (Not to be confused with Italian Soffritto which is a type of mirepoix). It’s a blend of your basic Caribbean aromatics, used as a base in most traditional Latin dishes. I was first introduced to sofrito by my good friend Dorian. She is a first generation Purto Rican-American, Brooklyn raised, rock star who makes the BEST Arroz con Gandulez on this side of the western hemisphere. You can tell her I said that. Maybe one day I can share her recipe with you guys. That is, if I can get her to share it with me first!
I made my first batch of Smoked Sofrito this summer when I had an overflowing abundance of sweet bell peppers (red and green), tomatoes, and onions from my garden. Not wanting to make the usual pico de gallo, I came up with a brilliant idea. Smoke them! At this point I still didn’t know where I was going with this idea but I couldn’t let that little extra space in the smoker go to waste. J-Wiz was already in the midst of getting his smoker prepared for his famous smoked turkey legs and ribs so why not? BEST IDEA EVER. I discovered an awesome way to preserve all the beautiful summer produce I had, essentially all the ingredients sofrito is made up of. JACKPOT!
What you’ll need:
-A bunch of plastic shot glasses and plastic wrap
-All the tomatoes, green/ red bell peppers, and onions you want. One head of garlic and a handful of fresh cilantro.
THAT IS IT. Does your family like spicy? Add some jalapeno. Go light on the onion if you want. My recipe becomes your recipe. The only time I will “go all Hitler on you” is if you come in my kitchen, while I’m in the middle of creating a masterpiece, and start sticking your fingers in stuff. J-Wiz can vouch for that!
Okay, let’s do this. First you want to make sure your smoker is ready to go. Just like you would pre-heat your oven. Next, cut each pepper in half and get rid of the seeds. Peel and half the onions, and do the same with the tomatoes. The tomato skins will easily pull away once they’ve been smoked. If you want to peel each garlic clove, go for it. Who am I to judge you? I just went ahead and cut the top off of the entire bulb and keep them all together. They will easily pop out later. Toss the veggies in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and spread out, in a single layer on to a foil roasting pan.
Place the pan in your smoker and forget about it. Go for a bike ride. Take your dog on a walk. I went to the beach. If I’m nowhere to be found on a hot July day, then that’s where I’ll be.
This is what it looked like when I got back. Almost as charred as I was. Gorgeous!
They smoked for about 6 hours. When the veggies are tender and the skins are slightly brown/black, they’re done. Once everything has cooled to the touch, slide all the skins off of the peppers and tomatoes. Pop each garlic clove out of the bulb. Throw everything in your blender or food processor. Toss in a hand full of fresh cilantro (a generous sprinkle of cumin will prove to be delicious as well) and blend until smooth. Now is a good time to brush up on your pronunciation. All together: SO-FRRRREE-TOH. Let the R roll off your tongue. You want to sound like you know what you’re talking about!
When it’s nice and smooth with a consistency similar to applesauce, it’s done. Beautiful job! I like to store my Smoked Sofrito in those little plastic shot glasses. Each one holds about 2 Tbsp of Smoked Sofrito. After you’ve divided it all up, wrap each individual cup in plastic wrap and store in your freezer for up to 8 months.
Using Smoked Sofrito in all of your Spanish dishes will add a special something that will keep people guessing. With the hint of smoke, the fresh cilantro, and let’s not forget about your authentic pronunciation, you and your next Caribbean dinner will be a hit! Dorian tasted and Dorian approved.