Avichay Eisenger took us to a small restaurant in the Ben Yehuda market in Jerusalem that specialises in slow cooked food. I had Sofrito and it was wow. I’ve been trying to master it ever since.
Sofrito - Slow Cooking Meat in Little Oil and Water
- 2 - 3 tablespoons of oil
- Optional 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1.5 - 3 kg shoulder or leg of lamb or shank of beef, joint of veal, leg or loin of veal, or chicken cut into large pieces (approx 3 cm) or whole
- Optional 2 large onions, cubed
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon Baharat or Bahar spice mixture
- Optional Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Optional Up to 1/3 cup extra boiling water
- 4-8 medium potatoes up to 900 grams cut into cubes (about 2.5 cm) and deep fried until golden
- Optional 25 unpeeled cloves of garlic deep fried with the potatoes
- Optional 500 g tomatoes, sliced
- Heat oil in a large heavy pot
- If using crushed garlic, sauté until starting to become transparent
- Brown the meat on all sides (in batches if necessary)
- Add the onion to the pan, if used
- Add water to the pot, pouring onto the sides of the pot
- Cover tightly. Bring back to the boil. Reduce to low heat
- Sprinkle the meat with salt, spice and most of lemon juice (if used)
- Cook for 1 hour for chicken, otherwise 2 hours. Shake the pot occasionally (don't stir the meat). Add extra boiling water if the pot gets dry (needs about 5mm of liquid). Add a tablespoon at a time, with at most 2/3 cups in total. Pour water onto the side of the pot rather than directly onto the meat. Then shake the pot.
- Lift the meat from the pot
- Add remaining vegetables to cooking juices in the pot (deep fried potatoes plus optional tomatoes and deep fried garlic cloves)
- Layer the meat on top of the vegetables
- Adjust seasonings
- Cook for another hour on low heat
- Drizzle with remaining lemon juice
Ansky, S. (2000). The Food of Israel: Authentic Recipes from the Land of Milk and Honey. Periplus Editions.
Ben David, A. (2007). Sofrito Spanish-Jerusalem. The Treasure: Al Hashulchan’s Best Recipes (p. 137). Israel: Al Hashulchan.
Tamimi, S. and Ottolenghi, Y. (2012). Jerusalem: A Cookbook.
Roden, C. (1986). A New Book of Middle Eastern Food. Penguin.