Sofrito is the essence of what is known as Comida Criolla, or Puerto Rican cooking. This sauce, a mix of herbs and vegetables, is common in Latin cuisine, and many regions have their own recipes. In Puerto Rico, sofrito gets its signature taste from recao, or culantro, and ají dulce, a sweet pepper. The sauce is the base for many of the island's most representative dishes, from stews to pasteles to the ever-popular arroz con pollo, and much, much more.
1Un a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil on high heat. Then reduce the heat, add the achiote and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2Let cool completely and empty into a large pan, straining it through a colander with absorbent paper.
3In a blender or food processor, blend the cooking ham, green peppers, ajíes dulces (Spanish Sweet Chili), onions, garlic, culantro (Mexican coriander leaves), culantrillo (bay leaf) and oregano, using all the liquid that they produce.
4Add to the pan and cook under high heat until it boils. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5Use what you need for the recipe you are making at the time.
Let the sauce cool completely and pour into an ice cube tray (2 tablespoons of the sauce per cube). Put the tray in the freezer.
7Once frozen, remove the cubes and keep them in sealable plastic bags and put them back in the freezer.
8Now you have your own sofrito stock, ready to add.