Two years ago I asked my readers a question: “Do we really do this?”. The full question was “do we Dominicans really use sopitas (bouillon cubes) so much?”. The question came after a discussion with some online friends on the subject. Coming from a family in which cooking with natural ingredients was the norm, I rarely ever use industrial seasonings in my home and in the recipes I write both for our blog and for my clients.
When I started writing Dominican recipes I often did list these ingredients. A few times some people complained that my recipes were not authentic because this dish, or that other, did not contain seasonings or sopita. As time passed I came to the conclusion that a) This is our blog, I write the recipes. And b) If I wouldn’t serve something to my family, why would I “serve” it to my readers?
Since we moved to a blog format nearly 3 years ago I have been re-writing and re-shooting all our old recipes. They reflect my cooking style better (plus better pictures). They won’t be to everybody’s liking, but there was never a chance I would please everybody.
Nowadays you see I list “tomato sauce” instead of ”tomato paste” in my recipes. I list “chicken broth” or “vegetable broth” instead of bouillon cubes. You can buy pretty decent tomato sauces — which contain no artificial coloring, as opposed to a lot of tomato pastes — in the supermarket. You can also buy low-sodium and low-fat broths. But, why not make it at home? It’s cheaper, it’s healthier, you know what’s in your food. Better yet, it’s easy, very easy.
Trust me, as recipes go, this cannot get any easier. It’s just “set it and forget it”, in the inmortal words of Ron Popeil.
Instead of using bouillon cubes, and tomato paste, make your own. It is easy and you know what goes in it.
- 10 lbs of very ripe tomatoes, rinsed and cubed
- 1 head of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Pepper (optional)
- 2 lb of chicken bones
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 head of garlic, sliced
- 1 teaspoon of dry oregano leaves
- 1 stalk of celery
- 1 cup of bell pepper, diced
- Pepper, freshly cracked
- In a large thick-bottom pot heat the oil over very low heat.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is very soft.
- Add the tomato and a teaspoon of pepper.
- Cover and simmer until the tomatoes are very soft.
- Remove from the heat and let them cool down.
- Blend until it turns into a soft paste.
- Separate into 1-cup portions and freeze.
- Mix chicken, onion, garlic, oregano, celery, pepper and a pinch of pepper.
- Add 2 qrts of water, cover and simmer over low heat for an hour and a half. Add water when it becomes necessary to maintain the same level.
- Remove from the heat and let it cool down to room temperature.
- Strain and get rid of solids.
- Separate into 1 cup portions and freeze.
This is a substitute for tomato sauce and paste for cooking. I use the whole tomatoes because the peel gives it more color.
To make the broth buy a chicken, bone it and use just the bones to make the broth. Nothing to waste.