In describing the sofregit and another basic Catalan “sauce” called the picada (a paste of ground nuts, chocolate, garlic, fried bread, and other ingredients) in my book Catalan Cuisine, I suggested that both might be used with some success in certain non-Catalan dishes. “Like what?” asked a friend of mine recently. Like this, for instance.
In a large heavy skillet, melt the lard and approximately
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, make the sofregit by cooking onions over lowest possible heat in about half an inch of olive oil, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour. Add oregano and chili flakes (if desired), then continue cooking for another 1 ½ hours, or until onions are very soft and dark golden brown. Stir in tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes longer.
While onions are cooking, make a picada by crushing minced garlic in a mortar with a bit of salt, then pound in the nuts, fried bread, and chocolate until very well mixed. Add parsley and barely enough olive oil to cover the picada, then work in oil to form a thick paste. (All ingredients should be amalgamated completely and nuts should be thoroughly crushed.)
About 30 minutes before chili is done, stir onion mixture into it. Adjust seasoning. Remove cover and continue cooking, skimming excess fat off surface if necessary. About 5 minutes before serving, stir in picada.
© 1992 Colman Andrews. All rights reserved.