Israeli Chicken Sofrito

Israeli Chicken Sofrito #recipe #onepotmeal

This Israeli Chicken Sofrito is inspired by a Sephardic family recipe from my sister-in-law. The term sofrito comes from the Spanish sofreir meaning “to fry lightly.” In Sephardic cuisine the name typically refers to a stew made from meat or poultry that is braised and cooked over low heat until only a small amount of liquid remains. The slow cooking process results in a very tender meat. This version of the dish likely earned the name sofrito because the majority of the ingredients are fried in oil before they are cooked. In Spanish and Italian cuisine, sofrito is a combination of aromatics that are often fried and used in a variety of savory dishes. The Italian version is made with parsley, onion, garlic and tomato lightly cooked in olive oil, while the Spanish version calls for paprika. The common thread between all versions of sofrito seems to be the oil.

My sister-in-law’s version of this dish includes chicken consomme powder, a pareve powder that adds more savory chicken flavor to the dish. I love the flavor of chicken powder, but it’s loaded with sodium and many brands also contain MSG (the kind she uses is MSG-free, but it’s salty). I challenged myself to capture that ultra-savory flavor in a natural way without the use of chicken powder in order to cut down on the sodium. After experimenting, I found that once again the secret was in the schmaltz. By frying the chicken in olive oil and reserving the resulting chicken fat (schmaltz) at the bottom of the pot, I was able to fry the potatoes and onions in it, infusing them with all kinds of savory goodness. Using chicken broth for the braising liquid instead of water also helped to pump up the savory flavor.

This recipe takes a bit of prep work, but once it’s all in the pot you can rest easy… the cooking will take care of itself. It’s perfect as a Shabbat dinner or a Sunday supper. My favorite part of this dish is the addition of an orange yam/sweet potato and lightly caramelized onions, two sweet flavors which compliment the spices and add depth to this ultra-savory dish. My stepdaughter adores the browned potatoes, which soak up the spiced chicken broth at the end of cooking. This is serious comfort food, a one-pot meal that satisfies. Do you have your own version of sofrito?

Israeli Chicken Sofrito #recipe #onepotmeal

Israeli Chicken Sofrito

Ingredients

  • 8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 bay leaves

You will also need

  • 6 qt. Dutch oven or heavy pot with lid, slotted spatula
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 55 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours 15 Minutes
Servings: 8
Kosher Key: Meat
  • Prepare the chicken thighs by sprinkling them with salt (lightly if it’s kosher chicken), then generously with black pepper.
  • In a heavy pot with a lid (I prefer an enameled Dutch oven), heat olive oil over medium high heat till hot but not smoking. Oil should coat the entire bottom of the pot. Place 4 of the chicken thighs into the pan, skin side down, and cook undisturbed for about 7-8 minutes till the skin is dark golden brown (careful, it may splatter a bit!). Do not move the chicken during the initial cooking process; the skin will initially stick to the bottom of the pot, then will loosen as it browns. If the oil begins to smoke a lot, lower the heat a bit and continue to cook. When the skin is brown and crispy, turn and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes till brown.
  • Israeli Chicken Sofrito #recipe #onepotmealRemove chicken from pan with a slotted spatula and set aside. Repeat instructions for the remaining 4 pieces of chicken. Remove chicken from pan and reserve.
  • You should now have plenty of cooking oil/schmaltz in the bottom of your pot. Fry the potato chunks for about 8 minutes, stirring gently 2-3 times during cooking, till potatoes are browned and crisp on the outside. You may need to do this in batches to ensure that the pot is not crowded for even browning. They should be semi-cooked and golden, but not overly soft. Raise heat if needed to make sure they brown evenly on all sides. Remove potatoes from the pot with a slotted spatula and reserve.
  • Israeli Chicken Sofrito #recipe #onepotmealAdd sliced onions and ¼ tsp of salt to the oil, stir to coat. Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium. Let the onions cook covered for about 10 minutes.
  • Israeli Chicken Sofrito #recipe #onepotmealWhile the onions are cooking covered in the pot, whisk together the chicken stock, paprika, turmeric, garlic powder and bay leaves to create your cooking liquid. Set aside.
  • Israeli Chicken Sofrito #recipe #onepotmealUncover the pot and continue to cook the onions over medium high heat, continuing to stir till the onions soften and begin to caramelize. Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot as you stir. The longer you cook the onions, the more they will caramelize.
  • Israeli Chicken Sofrito #recipe #onepotmealAt this point, you can drain off the excess fat and schmaltz if you wish to cut calories, or you can keep it in the dish to add flavor.
  • Add chicken and cooking liquid to the pot with the onions and bring to a simmer.
  • Israeli Chicken Sofrito #recipe #onepotmealCover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for about 60 minutes till the chicken is very tender (you can cook it even longer for a more tender result if you wish). Add the browned potatoes back to the pot and toss to coat with sauce. Raise heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes or until cooking liquid has reduced and potatoes are tender and soak up some of the cooking liquid. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve sofrito and sauce on a platter in the center of the table. Enjoy!
  • Israeli Chicken Sofrito #recipe #onepotmeal

Comments (63)Post a Comment

    1. Here is the quintessential Cuban recipe: Make a Sofrito; then decide what you are going to cook.

      Italians too, make Sofritto; using the same ingredients, plus a little Pancetta; and sometimes, an anchovy or two.

  1. Yes, the South American sofrito: onion, garlic and bell peppers, tomatoes, some jalapeño or Tabasco, salt and pepper, and cilantro at the end. I use that for lentils! Sofirito means sautéed in Spanish.

  2. Argentine sofrito (sautéed veggies) = onion, garlic, green peppers, tomatoes, cumin, hot sauce, cilantro, salt & pepper. Usually some strips of beef are added but you can use any meat.

  3. My mother baked her chicken, potato, onion with oil and a splash of vinegar, salt and pepper of course. A peasant type dish, but delicious!!!! it was not fried but baked until the potato was browned.

  4. I made the chicken soffits this week and really enjoyed it! I found that I needed to cook thinks longer than the recommended times, so my stove probably cooks cooler than yours. I love carmelized onions, so I cooked mine for 30 minutes or so. The dish was flavorful and a really relaxing cook with lots of time to do other things in the kitchen (clean up, make salad, etc.). Oh, and I loved the sweet potato in it! Great dish!

  5. I don’t think this is too much work as another stated…this is how food was supposed to taste AND ITS GREAT. My grandchildren (ages 6,7,10years old) love to help me cook and this is the perfect recipe for our family. We live in New Zealand and love chicken.

  6. Tori,

    My husband is very anti eating chicken on the bone. Would this be worth making with boneless chicken thighs?
    I think u r awesome, btw.

    1. Thanks Lori, that is very kind of you! The trouble with boneless skinless chicken here is that a lot of the savory flavor comes from cooking the potatoes and onions in schmaltz, which accumulates from the skin of the chicken during the first saute. The bones also add a lot of savory flavor to the mix as it cooks. What I would do if I were you is cook it with bone-in, skin-on chicken, then remove the skin and bone prior to serving. It will be easy to remove the skin because you fry it crisp before cooking, so it should stay in one easy-to-remove piece. Also the meat will be very tender, so you should have no problem slicing it from the bone. If you try it let me know how you like it!

  7. This sounds wonderful….I’m thinking the crock pot might be good for this too. It makes Shabbat so much easier to put the food in earlier in the day and then serving it at dinner. Need all the shortcuts you can find for getting Shabbat dinner table as painlessly as possible. :)

    1. Hi Sherry! It will probably work well in the crock pot as long as you do all of the sautéing steps before putting the ingredients in. The only thing I’m not sure about is the liquid levels… crock pots can be tricky in that the “low” setting heat varies from cooker to cooker. If I were to test it I would start with the amount of stock listed in the recipe, cook it on low for about 8 hours, then add more if it appears dry towards the end of cooking. If it seems too liquidy and not reduced enough, you could up the heat to high for the last hour or so of cooking. It’s not an exact science. If you try it please let us know what worked for you!

  8. Hi Tori,
    Made this for dinner last night and it was a hit! My husband loved it and he said I could prepare it again . . . soon! :) And, guess what? It was even more delicious today when I had a helping for my lunch! This dish reminds me so much of my mom’s chicken stew. The only difference would be that she used tomato paste instead of the paprika. I used chicken drumsticks and Yukon gold potatoes, because that’s what I had at hand, and it was really good! Thanks for sharing this recipe! :)

  9. Tori, my sis and I made this tonight. It was my 2nd time (first time, I added too much liquid, so it was more soupy than anything else). Came out perfect, so good. Thank you for your recipes — I love your site!!

  10. With the kids just back to school, this dish really is a delicious comfort-everyone cleaned their plates and went to bed happy with full tummies & requests for the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Thank you for this recipe!

  11. It looks excellent! You just gave me idea what to cook for weekends or if I catch time for week dinner! I am returning to my grandmother’s Sephardic cuisine.

  12. I do have some questions. Surprise surprise. You put very few potatoes in for 8 people. My family are big eaters – my fault. Big servings. But no fat children. I would obviously use more potatoes and yummy chicken. How would I increase the rest of the ingredients? What’s a Dutch oven? I’m originally British and I’m not sure what it actually is. What is a slow cooker! really good for and what can it do that other pots can’t do? I love chicken. Roasted. Curried. Soup. You name it I love it.

    1. Hi Judy, in this case I would just double the recipe and make in two separate pots, otherwise the pot will be overcrowded and it won’t cook as it should. The leftovers are terrific. A Dutch oven is simply a large, heavy pot with a lid, usually made of cast iron. It’s great for braising and stews. Any large, heavy pot with thick walls and a tight-fitting lid will work for this recipe.

  13. My Grandmother made this as I was growing up, but I did not know it was a Sephardic recipe! I now know where our Dafina & Sofrito came from! A touch of this and a touch of that make it your own personal recipe!
    50 something years later!

  14. I am a Sephardic too and at home we never had this kind of dish neither or stews. My grand ma use to cook all the time G d rest her soul more than my mom but when I immigrated I learned a lot more than being over seas. I cook all the time as my grand ma did for my family.

  15. hi Tori,
    i truly enjoy your recipes and plan to make the apple challah for sukot tomorrow evening. looking at your sofrito recipe i smile – chicken food powder is soooo popular in israel that its strong taste really is overwhelming – good for you to omit it, as i do myself. really good additions to the sofrito: adding carrots, and 2-3 leaves of lemon tree -it gives it such a heavenly taste….shana tova and hag sameh :-)

  16. I have a question about the paprika, I have 3 kinds on hand: Sweet,Smoked,Imported Hungarian. Which would you suggest to be used in this dish?
    While I am not of your faith, my family has loved every dish I have prepared from your site and my almost grown son loves all your mocktail recipes! I have started looking for the Kosher hescher on product because I simply find them to be of higher quality. Again, thanks for that tip.

  17. Made this for my family and it was a hit. Very easy to make and so delicious. Looking forward to trying out the Chai Noodle Kugel next!! Thank you for the fantasic website.

  18. Hi Tori, thanks for yet another wonderful recipe! I wanted to do something new and different for dinner tonight, so I decided on this sofrito. It turned out delicious! My family really enjoyed it!

  19. I made this for dinner tonight. it ended up being a more of a stew with a lot of liquid remaining. The flavors were insanely good. I mean, really, really delicious. This is a keeper.

  20. This is such an interesting recipe for this dish! I love sweet potatoes so that addition sounds delicious. When we make chicken sofrito at home, we use a whole chicken and instead of garlic powder, we use a lot of garlic cloves still in their skins. Once they’ve roasted with the chicken and potatoes and onions, they’re basically magical. The garlic slips right out of the skin and takes on the savoury flavour of the chicken. I highly recommend it! :]

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