The title of this dish means three different things in three different languages and cuisines. Sofrito in Spanish refers to a well-cooked and fragrant sauce. In Italian, Sofrito means a saute and it often refers to sauteing a “mire poix”.
The Greek take on Sofrito is related to the Italian definition as veal or beef escaloples are sauted in a skillet and served with an accompanying sauce. It’s a dish native to the island of Corfu(Kerkyra), which is located on the Ionian Coast of Greece, facing Italy.
The island of Corfu was occupied by Genovese privateers and later the Venetians, after the slow break-up of Byzantium. I visited Corfu (Kerkyra) back in 1988 and one of the first things I remember upon approaching this island with the ferry boat was the architecture. Although not entirely foreign, it is different from most of the other Greek architecture found throughout Greece.
Corfu is a large island and if you plan to pay a visit here, a car (rental) is highly recommended if you want to see much of this fair island. The ferry boat ride from Igoumenitsa is just a couple of hours, the island is lush with green, vegetation and trees, sweeping beaches and small bays hug the perimeter.
Foodwise, Corfu was the island that introduced me to the pasta dish, Carbonara and I can assure you, most Greeks share in my delight in this creamy dish. In the meantime, let’s cook up Corfu’s specialty, Sofrito. Veal or beef can be used for this dish. On this occasion, I had some eye of round beef, I cut it into some thin slices, pounded into escalopes and tenderized it with the toothed side of the pounder.
There are many takes on this dish, I chose this one as I liked the addition of sage and I paired it with some roasted Greek potatoes. If you haven’t made your own Greek roasted potatoes, pre-heat your oven to 450F, toss your potato wedges in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and some Greek oregano is usually added in the mix. Place in the oven and roast until fork-tender.
As for the Sofrito, this dish takes about an hour – that’s about as much time as it takes for your potatoes to roast. Uncork a bottle of white, pour yourself a glass, reserve a glass for the Sofrito and finish the bottle off during dinner. For this dish, try out the Gentilini Classico from the island of Cephallonia. Cephallonia is another Greek island on the Ionian coast, south of Corfu and this dry white contains Moschofilero and two local varietals…Tsaoussi and Robola grapes.
approx. 1lb. of veal (or beef) escalopes
all-purpose flour for dredging
1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 sage leaves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups of beef or chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
- Assuming that you have already pounded (or bought) your meat into thin escalopes, season both sides with a little salt and pepper and then lightly dredge in flour. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the escalopes and brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate and reserve.
- Add the sliced onions to the skillet and saute over medium heat until they become translucent. Now add the garlic and sage and saute for another minute. Now add the white wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes, raise the heat to medium-high while scraping up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.
- Now add your escalopes back into the skillet and now add the stock, bring to a boil add some salt and pepper, cover and reduce to a simmer and and cook for about 45 minutes or until the meat has become tender and sauce is a velvety-thick consistency.
- Take off the heat and allow to rest for about 10 minutes covered. Add your chopped fresh parsley and plate each escalope with some roasted Greek potatoes and a seasonal salad. Don’t forget to enjoy this meal with the Gentilini Classico!
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