On Monday, March 3rd, Chipotle Mexican Grill will be launching its first entirely new menu item in the company’s 20-year history. An item called sofritas, organic shredded tofu (Vegans: “And there was much rejoicing!”) braised with chipotle chilies, roasted poblano peppers and a blend of aromatic spices, will be added to the menus of Chipotle locations in New York City and Boston. Media in the Boston area had the chance to give the new item a try on Thursday evening at the Chipotle Mexican Grill located at 101 Summer Street in Boston’s Financial District.
Having tried tofu a few times in the past, I was never much of a fan. Chef Nate Appleman, the culinary director for Chipotle, zeroed in on the reason why most of us are not typically in to tofu, saying, “I think most people have an aversion to tofu because they think its bland, and depending what you put it up against I’d be inclined to agree.” So how do you make tofu appealing to even the staunchest of meat eaters? “As a meat eater myself I thought, ‘Well let’s make something that’s really, really flavorful.’ We wanted to make it so that even if someone really hated tofu, they’ll try this and realize its not like any other tofu they’ve had before, and tastes like a really flavorful chili.”
Taking almost a year to develop, Appleman believes that they were successful in developing their recipe by keeping things simple. “I stuck to the ingredients we already use in our food. We used things that we always have on hand like chipotle adobo. We have poblanos, onions, garlic. So I threw them all together to make a sauce, and then braised the shredded tofu in it.”
Upon trying sofritas myself, the first word that came to mind was “unexpected”, and it was. It had a flavor I would have expected from a chili (points go to Appleman for making that call), with a rich depth of flavor and a spicy punch from the peppers. It was… meaty. Most importantly, it tasted pretty damn good! I had mine in the form of tacos with white rice, fresh tomato salsa and cheese. I can see myself opting for sofritas when wanting to go a bit lighter in my choice of protein on my next visit for a burrito.
It is also worth noting that sofritas are a perfect fit for the Meatless Monday crowd, something I am a big proponent of. Living about 25 minutes north of the city, I do not have the range of offerings that someone living in Boston proper might have. Some Mondays, my family just wants to do takeout that does not involve having “just a salad”. That is not always easy where I live! As sofritas starts to make its way to more Chipotle Mexican Grill locations in Massachusetts in the coming months, it is going to serve as a solid choice for myself and a slew of others looking for the occasional meatless option.