Sorry for the cliche. It’s wicked hot here in Boston today and I’m feeling a little spicy. I’ve been expanding my universe of background flavor boosters- you know something that enhances what you’re eating, but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is. This is how I feel about sofrito. It can add that much needed boost to take your savory dishes to the next level. It keeps well in the freezer and you can adjust the spiciness as you wish.

Sofrito

Makes about 4 cups

2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into quarters
2 cubanelle peppers, seeded and cut into quarters
2 poblano peppers, seeded and cut into quarters
1 Fresno chile, seeded
1 good sized bunch of cilantro, end of stems trimmed
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled
1 large Spanish onion or other sweet onion, peeled and quartered
a generous pinch of salt
Optional:
1/2 cup pimento stuffed olives
1-2 tablespoons capers

Put all your ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Blitz until everything is finely minced. Divide into 1 cup portions and use or freeze.

When I use it, I like to cook it in a hot pan to release the excess water and concentrate the flavors. Then I’ll stir it into soup, stews, braises, etc. Recently, I added it to steamed mussels. Using:

3 pounds of mussels, scrubbed and de-beared
1/2 pound chorizo sausage, sliced
1 cup of sofrito
1- 12 oz bottle of beer. I used Landshark lager, but any lager will do.

In a 7 qt dutch oven, brown the chorizo, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain the excess fat- leaving behind a tablespoon or so. Add the sofrito to the hot pan and sauté until the water evaporates from the sofrito. This will take 3-5 minutes. Add the chorizo back into the pot then add the mussels and beer. Stir everything together to coat the mussels. Cover tightly with a lid and bring to a boil. Allow mussels to steam for 5-10 minutes or until the open. Stir a couple times during the steaming. Discard any mussels that don’t open. Serve in bowls with the broth and crusty bread for dipping.

Serves 4 (Sorry no pictures! Everything was inhaled by my guests before I broke out my camera!)

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