Friday, December 3, 2010

Oh, and Get Some Soffrito in That Oven!

While you're Glad-Braising those ribs in the last post, why not make some soffrito at the same time? Soffrito is a building block of flavor that will add richness and complexity to pretty much anything. Dice a few onions up nice and small, maybe do the same with a couple of carrots and celery stalks. Put them in a nice heavy pot, and cover with olive oil and add some salt. Seems like a lot of oil, and it is, but it is well worth it in order for the soffrito to cook nice and softly, and will ultimately provide you with some tasty olive oil. Let this simmer on low, low heat for a couple of hours, stirring now and then. And hey--the low low oven you have going for those ribs is the perfect environment for this to happen. When things are nice and deeply caramelized, add some tomatoes. In the summer, use fresh--cut them in half and squeeze to discard the seeds, then grate the tomatoes on a cheese grater to make a puree of sorts--in the winter, use crushed canned tomatoes, drained off. Let this go for a couple more hours, then fold in some minced garlic and remove from the heat. The flavors will have concentrated to a fragrant, deeply delicious chunky paste--and are ready to be stirred into anything to bump up flavor--a backwards mirepoix, if you will. It'd be good spread on bread; this time I roasted some peppers and folded in soffrito and chives for a nice peperonata. Whatever you do, in your excitement towards the soffrito, don't forget to take your ribs out of the oven.