Sofrito – Slow Cooking Meat in Little Oil and Water

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
Sofrito was originally a Spanish style of cooking which passed into Sephardic Jewish cuisine. It involves long slow cooking with little oil and water. Effectively it is a combination of roasting and stewing. The result is a very tender. Serve with rice - consider Egyptian Rice - and salad.
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  1. 2 - 3 tablespoons of oil
  2. (Optional) 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  3. 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
  4. (Optional) 2 large onions, cubed
  5. 1/3 cup boiling water
  6. Salt
  7. 1 tablespoon Baharat or Bahar spice mixture
  8. (Optional) Juice of 1/2 lemon
  9. (Optional) Up to 1/3 cup extra boiling water
  10. 4-8 medium potatoes (up to 900 grams) cut into cubes (about 2.5 cm) and deep fried until golden
  11. (Optional) 25 unpeeled cloves of garlic deep fried with the potatoes
  12. (Optional) 500 g tomatoes, sliced
  1. Heat oil in a large heavy pot
  2. If using crushed garlic, sauté until starting to become transparent
  3. Brown the meat on all sides (in batches if necessary)
  4. Add the onion to the pan, if used
  5. Add water to the pot, pouring onto the sides of the pot
  6. Cover tightly. Bring back to the boil. Reduce to low heat
  7. Sprinkle the meat with salt, spice and most of lemon juice (if used)
  8. 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.
  9. Lift the meat from the pot
  10. Add remaining vegetables to cooking juices in the pot (deep fried potatoes plus optional tomatoes and deep fried garlic cloves)
  11. Layer the meat on top of the vegetables
  12. Adjust seasonings
  13. Cook for another hour on low heat
  14. Drizzle with remaining lemon juice
Adapted from Ansky (2000), Ben David (2007), Roden (1986), and Tamimi and Ottolenghi (2012)
Adapted from Ansky (2000), Ben David (2007), Roden (1986), and Tamimi and Ottolenghi (2012)
Balagan Recipes


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.

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