Welcome to my Risotto Sofrito! Upon stumbling upon this, your first question may be: “what the heck is sofrito?!” While there are many approaches to making sofrito, at the end of the day it’s a blend of herbs, onion, mild peppers (and sometimes tomatoes) in olive oil. It originates from Spain where the word “sofrito” is Catalan (a common language there) and means “to lightly fry”. That’s because Spanish recipes have you sautéing it in a pan with tomato, onion, red bell pepper, and garlic. Yet, other sofrito recipes more common to Puerto Rico and Latin America feature olive oil, cilantro, green bell pepper and garlic and have you blend it into a consistency similar to that of Italian pesto with (more common to Puerto Rican and Latin American style). From there, the sofrito is generally combined and/or sautéd with proteins, grains and veggies.
Here, I’ve decided to let my recent travels to Spain inspire me to create an outrageously delicious and easy risotto, but instead of actually making sofrito, I’m using Better Than Bouillon Sofrito Base from the Culinary Collection which will satisfy the flavor once mixed with water and transformed into a rich broth to infuse the rice as it cooks! Risotto Sofrito, a creamy rice dish inspired by a combination of Valencian paella and arroz con pollo, is now a thing.
This post was sponsored by Better Than Bouillon/Summit Hill Foods.
Watch The Video!
A Sofrito Shortcut!
The Finishing Touches
The Taste Test
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) salted butter
- 1 medium Spanish or yellow onion, diced
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced
- 3 cloves (1 tablespoon) garlic, minced or pressed
- 1/4 teaspoon (or a generous pinch) of saffron (optional)
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular is fine too)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- 2 cups arborio rice, unrinsed (it must be this kind of rice)
- 5 cups Sofrito Broth (I use 5 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Sofrito Base from the Culinary Collection + 5 cups water - see Jeff's Tips)
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
- 2 cups shredded manchego or shredded Mexican cheese blend (or a mix of the two)
- 10 ounces frozen peas (optional)
- Place the oil and butter in the Instant Pot and hit Sauté and Adjust so it's on the More or High Setting. Once the butter's melted, add the onion and bell pepper and sauté until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and saffron (if using) and sauté for 1 minute more.
- Add the chicken and stir to coat, followed by the seasoned salt, paprika, oregano and parsley. Sauté for 3 minutes until the chicken is pinkish-white in color.
- Add the arborio rice and stir until coated with the chicken, veggies and seasoning for 1 minute.
- Add the broth and diced tomatoes. Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot so it's freed of any browned bits from sautéing the chicken, rice and spices.
- Secure the lid, move the valve to the sealing position, hit Cancel and then fit Pressure Cook or Manual for 6 minutes. Quick release when done. Don't worry if it looks like there's a bunch of liquid when done - this is good! Give it a good stir and you'll see it all mostly vanish but some will remain.
- Add the cheese and peas (if using). Stir until the cheese is blended into the risotto and the peas are thawed and heated up, about 1 minute. Let rest for 2-3 minutes to thicken and combine as the risotto continues to absorb.
- Serve topped with additional cheese, if desired.
If you can't find the Better Than Bouillon Base it's easily found online here or soupsonline.com. Of course you can also use any broth of your choice (Ham or Chicken would be preferred), but since this is a Sofrito-infused dish, I'd suggest going with that.
If you wish to make your own sofrito, this is my take on combining the best of a Spanish and Puerto-Rican style. Add the following to a food processor and blend until puréed:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves (optional)
6 cloves (2 tablespoons) garlic, roughly chopped
Once puréed, stir in the can of diced tomatoes, with their juices as already included on the ingredients list. When adding the remainder of the broth of your choice in Step 5 (I'd use chicken broth), add the sofrito purée as well. NOTE: If making the sofrito, skip the onion in Step 1 though since we're already adding one here.
For a dairy-free alternative: use 1/4 cup olive oil in Step 1 and skip the butter and omit the cheese in Step 7 and let the risotto rest for 5 minutes so it thickens just slightly before serving.