Sofrito (Σοφριτο)

While I’ve been cooking, eating, researching and posting said research on my Instagram feed for months I haven’t truly broken ground with an actual recipe. So, it seems fitting that as I’m finally brave enough to cook my all time favourite, sofrito, and finally brave enough to publish a post.

Fittingly, as well as being my favourite sofrito originated in Corfu and is beautifully made in restaurants and home kitchens all over the island.

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If you were to search this dish on the internet, however, you would come up with a ton of hits that aren’t this delicious Corfu wonder.

In cooking terms sofrito is the base of onions, carrots and celery sweated down to make the base of soups and stews. In fact the the Italian sofrito is onions and parsley sweated down in olive oil, the closest there is to the base for the sofrito here.

Latin American and Caribbean versions abound and each vary from country to country. The Dominican version, like the Corfiot one, also contains vinegar. In fact reading about them has whetted my appetite and I hope to be delving further into the wonders this versatile base in future posts.

Getting to the point now, this Sofrito is a braised beef or veal stew with a base of olive oil (obviously), loads of garlic and parsley. Now when I say load of garlic I mean it, some recipes call for 6 cloves, others for 8, this one uses 12 – an entire bulb, trust me the more garlicky the better, don’t be afraid.

Ingredients

  • Good braising beef – steaks are preferred but I could only get my hands on diced this time.
  • A good handful of fresh parsley
  • One bulb of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • White wine (always make sure its one you would drink yourself – which works out well for you and the dish)
  • One cup of Beef stock (I used a Knorr stock pot and topped it up with hot water so its beefy but not watery, theres enough liquid provided by the wine)
  • Plain white flour for dredging
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pinch of sugar (later on and optional)

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Cooking

  1. Finely chop all the garlic and half of the parsley.
  2. Dredge the beef in a little seasoned flour.
  3. Get your oil to a nice high heat and then brown and seal the meat.
  4. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, turn down the heat and add the garlic to sweat down and go slightly golden.
  5. Add 1/4 of a cup of the vinegar to de-glaze the pan. Watch out now those fumes will be potent.
  6. Add your beef, the chopped parsley and stir. then add in one to one and half glasses of the wine and allow to simmer for five minutes.
  7. Now add your warm beef stock and bring to a rolling bubble before transeferring it to the oven set to Gas Mark 4 for no less than one hour. One hour should do it, but for stew like this I say the longer and slower you cook it the better.
  8. About half way through cooking take it out, give it a stir and a little taste. If the vinegar is still a little over powering for you add a generous pinch of sugar, this will tone the acidity down (a trick I use with my tomato based sauces).
  9. When its done stir in the remaining parsley and serve.

Serving suggestion:

Traditionally this is served with rice or mashed potato. In some establishments on the island, however, you will be offered chips. One because the English tourist love a chip and two because fresh Greek chips are to die for. I served mine with cheats chips, as I had eaten rice the previous night and only had baby potatoes (see more below for the recipe),  and sauteed green beans with feta. I highly recommend feta with this dish, as I do with most, but this time it really balances with the garlic and wine flavour.

Cheats chips

You will have noted that oregano is a popular seasoning for feta but the Greeks also love it on chips, with salt. Vinegar on your chips is largely regarded as odd and it should be reserved for salad. So I cooked these cheats chips in olive oil, salt and oregano.

These are super fast and easy and a great way to cook baby/new potatoes. Simply slice them into 1 cm disks, toss in the seasoning and oil and bake until golden and crispy! Voila or Oriste!

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