Semper Paratus et Coctus
Homemade sofrito and resulting beef burrito dinner!

Sofrito: heat 2-3 T olive oil in a large pan or pot over medium heat, sauté 1.5 cup diced carrots until softened, then add equal amounts diced bell pepper, onion and tomatoes until cooked through and soft, about 10 min. Add 2T minced garlic, a handful of chopped cilantro, and salt/pepper & oregano (or italian seasoning….I also added 1/4 c beer because I was drinking some at the time and thought it’d be cool to add some) to taste. Lower heat to medium-low. Simmer another 5 min. Mash in pot with potato masher (or process in blender or food processor until smooth—I like chunky sofrito so I did it by hand). Mix into seasoned ground beef or chicken for burritos, or freeze into portions or a resealable plastic bag for future use!

Note: sofrito is the base for much of Caribbean cooking (early origins trace back to the Catalan region of Spain, but have been adapted over time by different island cultures). Like the French love their mirepoix, the Spanish, Latin American and Caribbean cooks love their sofrito. It’s used as a topping, a base, or a last-stage addition to season a dish. In Puerto Rico you may see sweet peppers added, in Cuba some bay leaves and cumin, habañeros in Dominican Republic, and the version I posted in Spain. Play around with it and make it your own! Either way, you’ve got a tasty addition to your next meal!

Homemade sofrito and resulting beef burrito dinner!

Sofrito: heat 2-3 T olive oil in a large pan or pot over medium heat, sauté 1.5 cup diced carrots until softened, then add equal amounts diced bell pepper, onion and tomatoes until cooked through and soft, about 10 min. Add 2T minced garlic, a handful of chopped cilantro, and salt/pepper & oregano (or italian seasoning….I also added 1/4 c beer because I was drinking some at the time and thought it’d be cool to add some) to taste. Lower heat to medium-low. Simmer another 5 min. Mash in pot with potato masher (or process in blender or food processor until smooth—I like chunky sofrito so I did it by hand). Mix into seasoned ground beef or chicken for burritos, or freeze into portions or a resealable plastic bag for future use!

Note: sofrito is the base for much of Caribbean cooking (early origins trace back to the Catalan region of Spain, but have been adapted over time by different island cultures). Like the French love their mirepoix, the Spanish, Latin American and Caribbean cooks love their sofrito. It’s used as a topping, a base, or a last-stage addition to season a dish. In Puerto Rico you may see sweet peppers added, in Cuba some bay leaves and cumin, habañeros in Dominican Republic, and the version I posted in Spain. Play around with it and make it your own! Either way, you’ve got a tasty addition to your next meal!

Dinner tonight: Ropa Vieja (slow-cooker-style)!
   I love my slow cooker… Throw it all in the pot, then set it and forget it! It’s amazing how low heat and several hours can intensify flavors and make a dish taste even more complex. Also, Cuban food is something that’s very close to my heart, having grown up in Key West. :)
   Another awesome recipe from Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/slow-cooker-ropa-vieja-recipe/index.html
   With the following changes: I ran out of cumin a couple days ago, so I used a pinch of red pepper flakes and a pinch of oregano; I couldn’t find skirt steak or flank steak at my nearby grocery store, so I used a flat iron cut. It came out very tender and delicious still, but I was a little disappointed because it didn’t shred into the characteristic long strands Ropa Vieja normally has; I was short on time (in other words I forgot I was making this dish today and remembered at around 3 this afternoon) so I cranked it up to “high” for 4 hours instead of “low” for 8 hours; I wanted to add some fiber to the dish so I served it over brown rice instead of Spanish rice or white rice. Still tasted amazing!
   Serve as is, or paired with Cuban black beans & rice http://www.goya.com/english/recipes/Classic-Black-Beans-Rice
   Or some sweet plantains (plátanos maduros…OMG these are my weakness!) http://icuban.com/food/platanos_maduros.html

Dinner tonight: Ropa Vieja (slow-cooker-style)!
I love my slow cooker… Throw it all in the pot, then set it and forget it! It’s amazing how low heat and several hours can intensify flavors and make a dish taste even more complex. Also, Cuban food is something that’s very close to my heart, having grown up in Key West. :)
Another awesome recipe from Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/slow-cooker-ropa-vieja-recipe/index.html
With the following changes: I ran out of cumin a couple days ago, so I used a pinch of red pepper flakes and a pinch of oregano; I couldn’t find skirt steak or flank steak at my nearby grocery store, so I used a flat iron cut. It came out very tender and delicious still, but I was a little disappointed because it didn’t shred into the characteristic long strands Ropa Vieja normally has; I was short on time (in other words I forgot I was making this dish today and remembered at around 3 this afternoon) so I cranked it up to “high” for 4 hours instead of “low” for 8 hours; I wanted to add some fiber to the dish so I served it over brown rice instead of Spanish rice or white rice. Still tasted amazing!
Serve as is, or paired with Cuban black beans & rice http://www.goya.com/english/recipes/Classic-Black-Beans-Rice
Or some sweet plantains (plátanos maduros…OMG these are my weakness!) http://icuban.com/food/platanos_maduros.html