Why do some renditions of even the most basic dishes like beef stew or meatballs turn out so well in the hands of certain cooks? Secret flavor bolstering weapons! I don’t profess to know all the secrets or have mastered all flavor profiles, but I do have some tricks in my pocket. So I am starting a series of posts where each post will introduce a little flavor weapon.
Today’s is anchovies. That’s right, anchovies… they are probably located in the very isle of your local grocery mart that you always pass through briskly. The one that also has pre-made taco shells, canned beans, asian odds and ends and holiday specials. Before I explain why anchovies are an amazing flavor booster, I would advise that you provision the very best you can buy or as Ina Garten would say, “Good quality anchovies“. I recommend ones that are produced outside of the united states, preferably in Spain or Italy and packed in olive oil and not salt.
Finally, anchovies are salty, meaty, oily, briny and most of all rich in umami. There are two ways to indulge in anchovy goodness… let it melt away into flavorful nothingness in your stews, roasts or pasta sauces or proudly display them atop your favorite tapas. To use in a stew (meat or fish), simply throw in 2-3 anchovy fillets into your pot when sauteing your mirepoix. They will melt away into the oil/butter and you and your diners won’t know they are there. You will notice a certain richness in your final product, a very meaty, earthy flavor that you can’t really pinpoint. Speaking of stews… a little wine, chicken or beef stock never hurt anyone either! The use of anchovies as proud leads in your dishes is reserved for another, longer post. Stay tuned!