The best cooks in the world know the secret to adding dimension and rich depth of flavor to their dishes. In this post I’ll share how to do it.
THE SECRET REVEALED: FLAVOR BASES
Let’s go international! Flavor bases are used in nearly all cuisines around the world. Here are a few of them.
Combine equal parts finely diced carrot, onion and celery. Cook gently in butter. After several minutes, add thyme. Cook until vegetables are tender, not browned.
Cajun: The “Holy Trinity”
Cajun cooks combine 3 parts onion, 2 parts celery and 1 part bell pepper for the flavor base. The Holy Trinity is sautéed in butter until tender.
Latin cuisines use something called sofrito; it’s a puree of onions, peppers, cilantro and garlic.
This flavor base is cooked in oil until the flavors come together and the mixture is aromatic and a tight paste, about 15 minutes. It’s perfect for one-pot chicken stews, sautéed ground meats and soups.
Tip: Make a bigger batch and freeze cooked sofrito in ice cube trays for quicker meal preparation!
Just to confuse you with a similar name, soffritto is like a French mirepoix but you can also add fennel, garlic and parsley. It can be diced small or pureed in a food processor. Soffritto is different in that it is cooked in olive oil and rendered pancetta or other meat drippings. This base can be cooked two ways, either lightly sautéed until soft or until deep brown or full of sweet, rich flavor. A recipe will tell you which way to make it.
That’s it! Try one of these out and see how it enhances the flavor of your next dish. Be sure to share the results with me in the comments. Happy eating!