The flavor of Italian cuisine is built from the bottom up. There are three techniques—battuto, soffritto, and insaporire—which are the methods of building flavor in order to produce the base for your dish. Building from the bottom up allows the beautiful aromas and enticing flavors to culminate into the principle ingredients of the meal.
Follow these steps to immerse yourself in the delectable art of Italian cuisine.
Battuto: The word stems from the word “Battere,” which means “to strike,” and this is the process of finely chopping the raw ingredients for the dish. The ingredients you choose depend on your dish, but traditionally it would include parsley, onion, garlic, and lard. These finely chopped vegetables are called the battuto.
Soffritto: the soffritto is the moment when you gently cook the battuto in a pot or skillet over olive oil or butter in order to enliven the flavors. The onion is sautéed first and then the garlic, because the vegetables cook at different speeds, and it will allow for a richer flavor. Once the onion is translucent and the garlic is pale yellow, the rest of the battuto is added. This step is very important for the end result of your dish, because when the battuto is cooked correctly it allows the flavors to blossom.
Insaporire: this word literally means “bestowing taste.” It is the moment of intensely sautéing the vegetables or other key ingredients (i.e. meat for your meat sauce) under high heat until they are drenched with the flavors from the soffritto.
These three steps are the beginnings of a wonderful dish. Learning how to build your flavor from the bottom up gives a strong foundation for your meal and unlocks the beautiful world of Italian cuisine. Buon Appetito!
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