Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Ratatouille--Cook-Off 42


Chris Amirault
 Share

Recommended Posts

Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index.

There was this rat, and he wanted to be a cook. When he finally made it into the kitchen of a Parisian restaurant, he needed some help coming up with a signature dish to impress the critics.

So he sent his producer to stage a few days at the French Laundry, a little-known, out-of-the-way joint run by a guy named Thomas Keller. Keller had come up with a dish he called "byaldi," and with a bit of tweaking, handed over a recipe for Thomas Keller's "confit byaldi." Rat made it, critic was thrilled, everyone's happy.

A little while later, this eGullet Society member, KarenM, prints out the recipe and makes this thing of beauty:

gallery_34671_2649_20357.jpg

Fortunately, there were many dozen grateful Heartlanders eager to devour the dish, which some of them called by its ancestral name: ratatouille.

Ratatouille is the perfect late summer Cook-Off. Shockingly, we have only one topic dedicated to it, but it's a beaut. You'll find disagreements about whether ratatouille should be a jammy, stewy ratatouille or a discretely sautéed and layered dish. Advocates of Provencal authenticity face off against the fresh, clean, and bright brigade who know no region. And then there's that picky olive oil question.

I'll admit that I've always hated ratatouille, which has been throughout my life the potluck dish I should avoid at all costs, so I'm game to figure out how to make something that doesn't suck. I also have no fear of the mandoline, if it comes to that.

So where do you stand? Jammy goodness or definitive elements? Are you a Provencal stickler or a "what's ready in my garden" free spirit?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love Ratatoulle both ways. First learned to make the jammy kind and then worked with a chef that made the quickly cooked almost crunchy type. No, the eggplant wasn't crunchy but the rest of the vegetables were al dente.

Heading for the garden to see how the eggplant is doing. Last I looked they were pretty pitiful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use a slightly tweaked, jammy-leaning recipe out of the Cooks' Illustrated Sept/Oct 2001 issue. I've yet to eat a tastier version. Make it even better by plopping it on some crispy fried polenta and topping it with some goats cheese.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been looking for different ways to empty my refrigerator, which is currently filled with my CSA's eggplant and zucchini (among other things.) Ratatouille is the perfect solution. Today I found a recipe for "Cornmeal-Crusted Roasted Ratatouille Tart" (I think it was from the food network), which I will try this weekend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just finished reading My Life In France, by Julia Child and her describing living in Provence and her wanting to include a recipe for Ratatouille in MTAFC.

I was so inspired I made her recipe last week with my CSA delivery. I did scorch the bottom a little bit, but it was divine!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[i have a recipe i got in france, supposedly a version of ratatouille preferred by the late bernard loiseau. no onions, no garlic. the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers are cut in small dice, lots of olive oil and herbs,s and p, baked in a clay or ceramic dish for a long time at low temp. it's different from the soupy/stewy kinds, but really delicious.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh my, this cook-off is a taunt. Being without a working kitchen this summer during my kitchen renovation means that I can't make ratatouille, my favorite end of summer dish. My #1 reason for hoping construction would be finished by Labor Day was so that I could make ratatouille.

I have strong feelings about ratatouille. Too jammy, non. Too crunchy, absolutement pas. The recipes that have offered the most guidance to me are from Julia Child's Mastering the Art and Patricia Wells Bistro Cooking but I follow neither religiously. The rules I live by:

- cook each ingredient separately

- combine before refrigerating

- don't be afraid of salt or olive oil

- best made a day or two in advance

- adjust seasoning before serving. Critical is a generous chiffonade of fresh basil.

It's best on its own, at room temperature, as a side dish. But leftovers are versatile--tossed with pasta, on pizza, in an omlet or sandwich...

enjoy, all those with a stove to cook this beautiful dish!

Edited by LindaK (log)


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone with strong feelings about ratouille should skip this post, but we made "smoked ratatouille" last winter. After smoking baby eggplants, leeks, bell peppers and onions, we chopped them up and simmered with garlic, fire-roasted tomatoes, chicken stock, and capers.

Good stuff, but somebody is probably rolling over somewhere. :rolleyes:

gallery_42956_2536_56358.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just finished making a gigantic load of ratatouille on Monday. I'd been to a local farm and they had $1 baskets of yesterday's produce. I couldn't resist. For $2 I had an entire basket of tomatoes and another of eggplants and peppers. The tomatoes ended up as cream of tomato soup that very night. I used canned chopped tomatoes in the ratatouille instead. I had the bright idea to make it in the pressure cooker, thinking it would simply be done faster. It was done faster, but it also broke down the veggies a bit more than I would have liked. Nonetheless, it's still tasty and I've been eating it all week as well as putting a big container of it up in the freezer. There's Vidalia onion, fresh garlic, a few green and red bell peppers, a Cubanel pepper or two, two white eggplant and one regular dark eggplant, green and yellow zucchini, a small can each of chopped red and chopped yellow roma tomatoes, a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and a big handful of fresh basil chiffonade. I wished I'd remembered to put some capers in.

I'll take a picture tomorrow and edit it in so you can see the final result. Not too pretty, but very tasty!

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I cannot resist linking to this blogpost of mine (in Dutch), because it not only has pictures of making ratatouille, but also of a sweet little rat...

anyway, my recipe: first make a tomatosauce with either fresh tomatoes or canned, lots of garlic, some chilipepper (fresh or dried), ground corianderseed (I think I got this from Elizabeth David, and it's a really good addition).

The fry up all the vegetables (onions, peppers, courgette, aubergine) seperately , in plenty of olive oil, and add them to the pot with tomatosauce when nicely browned, then simmer everything together for 20 minutes or so. It should not be too saucy... more like chunks of vegetables lightly coated with the sauce.

Just before serving, stir in some red wine vinegar.

The vinegar and corianderseed really make the difference in this recipe.

gallery_21505_2929_29139.jpg

Edited by Chufi (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow--I, too, made the confit byaldi after seeing the recipe in the NYT (and of course in the rat flick), but mine was nowhere near the pretty. Tasted delicious, though--I pureed the piperade, which I think added to the effect (no chunks in the movie).

"Degenerates. Degenerates. They'll all turn into monkeys." --Zizek on vegetarians

Link to comment
Share on other sites

anyway, my recipe: first make a tomatosauce with either fresh tomatoes or canned, lots of garlic, some chilipepper (fresh or dried), ground corianderseed (I think I got this from Elizabeth David, and it's a really good addition).

The fry up all the vegetables (onions, peppers, courgette, aubergine) seperately , in plenty of olive oil, and add them to the pot with tomatosauce when nicely browned, then simmer everything together for 20 minutes or so. It should not be too saucy... more like chunks of vegetables lightly coated with the sauce.

Just before serving, stir in some red wine vinegar.

The vinegar and corianderseed really make the difference in this recipe.

Chufi, your ratatouille looks perfect! I also find myself adding a splash of vinegar to perk it up, depending on how acidic the tomatoes are. Balsamic is my preference, since its slight sweetness compliments the vegetables well. I am intriqued by the corianderseed addition. do you toast it first?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it heresy to make a ratatouille without eggplant? My family runs screaming and kicking if there's eggplant in a dish (unless they are the little Thai eggplants in curry, in which case they merely push them to the side of the plate).

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For some reason I can't edit my former post. Here's the pressure cooker ratatouille over Harvest Grains:

gallery_7409_476_38914.jpg

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it heresy to make a ratatouille without eggplant?  My family runs screaming and kicking if there's eggplant in a dish (unless they are the little Thai eggplants in curry, in which case they merely push them to the side of the plate).

I was reading a bunch of recipes this morning and at Chocolate & Zucchini, she has a side note in her recipe "- 1 eggplant (if you want to make the traditional ratatouille from Nice, hold the eggplant)" -- so you have a whole region agreeing with you.

I just got back from the farmer's market and my local vegetable shop and I'll be cookign a batch tomorrow.

Does anybody add mushrooms?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does anybody add mushrooms?

That's funny, I was eating my leftover ratatouille today with pasta and I thought it might be nice with mushrooms. But no, I've never made it that way.

Good timing! My farmer's market finally had all the necessary ingredients, so I made some on Thursday. I was going to post it in the Cooking with Fine Cooking thread because the recipe I used was from Issue #80.

In short, the ingredients are all sauteed seperately, beginning with the onions and ending with a very quick saute of the tomatoes and garlic. The vegetables go into a colander to drain over a saucepan, and the juices are then reduced to be poured over the dish. A final addition of lemon juice, hot sauce(!), and fresh basil and parsley brightens everything up. I added all except the hot sauce, which I just couldn't get my head around.

It's a great recipe! I'll post a picture on Monday.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you looking for jammy or trying to avoid it?

I... I... I don't know.

That's okay. I'm trying to figure out if I should be sauteeing/simmering or roasting. :unsure:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Friday night and I was trying to use up my produce before farmer's market today so I had these items to start with:

gallery_4006_121_509229.jpg

add some red and white onions minced and garlic and you get this:

gallery_4006_121_369388.jpg

and served with some grilled shrimps and brown rice for dinner.

gallery_4006_121_496568.jpg

i am NOT a big eggplant or nightshade lover but this came out rather well and even johnnybird ate some.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By Chris Amirault
      Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index.
      For our sixth Cook-Off, we're going to be making pad thai. You've surely eaten this Thai restaurant staple dozens of times, marvelling at the sweet, sour, hot, and salty marriage on your plate. There are lots of variations of pad thai floating around the internet, including one by mamster at the eGCI Thai Cooking course. While there is one ingredient -- rice noodles -- that may be hard for some to find, most ingredients or substitutes are available at your local grocer. And, if you're new to Thai cooking, isn't now a good time to get your first bottle of fish sauce or block of tamarind?
      In addition to the course, here are a few threads to get us started:
      The excellent Thai cooking at home thread discusses pad thai in several spots.
      A brief thread on making pad thai, and one on vegetarian pad thai.
      For the adventurous, here is a thread on making fresh rice noodles.
      Finally, a few folks mention pad thai in the "Culinary Nemesis" thread. Fifi, snowangel, and Susan in FL all mention in the fried chicken thread that pad thai is also a culinary nemesis of theirs. So, in true cook-off style, hopefully we can all share some tips, insights, recipes, and photos of the results!
      I'll start by asking: does anyone know any good mail-order purveyors for folks who can't purchase rice noodles at their local Asian food store?
    • By Chris Amirault
      Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index.
      For our thirteenth Cook-Off, we're making fresh and stuffed Italian pastas, including gnocchi. I would take a bit here and try to say some intelligent things about pasta in general, but I'm very happy to defer to my betters in the eGullet Society's Culinary Institute! Check out Adam Balic's Pasta around the Mediterranean course here, and click here for and the associated Q&A thread. In addition, Moby Pomerance has three eGCI courses: the first on stuffed pastas in general (Q&A here), and the other two on Tortelli, Ravioli & Cappelletti and Pansotti, Tortelloni and Raviolo.
      Of course, there are also lots of other related threads, including several on gnocchi like this one, this one, and this one; a few fresh pasta threads here, here and here; and a thread on pasta machines.
      So break out your Atlas hand-cranked machine (or, if you're like me, start to justify buying that KitchenAid mixer pasta attachment!), dice up a few heirloom tomatoes, and start cooking! No machine? Then you're on tap for gnocchi, my friend!
    • By Chris Amirault
      Welcome to eGullet Cook-Off XLIV! Click here for the Cook-Off index.
      We've just devoted a Cook-Off to braised brisket, and we're turning again to moist, well-cooked proteins for our next adventure: ossobuco. You will see it spelled a number of different ways out there, but Marcella Hazan refers to it as one word in her definitive Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, so I'm going with that spelling. No reason to argue with Marcella, after all.
      Ossobuco is braised veal shank, named after the "bone with a hole" that used to be attached to the hind shank of a calf. (Let's all agree to stick to veal, and not have, say, halibut ossobuco. ) The classic Milanese version includes vegetables, tomatoes, wine, and broth, and is served with risotto alla milanese, perfumed with saffron, and with gremolada.
      Some of the versions out there are a bit wacky. In particular, The Silver Spoon Cookbook simmers the 2" thick shanks for 30 minutes atop the stove. Given that Hazan has 1 1/2" shanks in a 350F oven for two hours, I'm pretty sure the SSC is a waste of good veal. Indeed, I'd think that a much lower oven for longer would work wonders.
      There are more things to talk about here than just braising temps and times! For example, many other versions of ossobuco depart from the Milanese approach. In her out-of-print More Classic Italian Cooking, Hazan provides the recipe for Ossobuchi in Bianco, the white referring to a sauce lacking tomato. In The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, Giuliano Bugialli offers ossobuco Florentine style, with peas and pancetta, and Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Italian Country Table offers a home-style version with mushrooms, favas or snap peas, and more intense flavors such as anchovy, sage, and rosemary.
      We have one short discussion of ossobuco here, and an even shorter one on wine pairings here. Indeed, as is often the case with Italian food, the best discussion is the one shepherded by Kevin72, the Cooking and Cuisine of Lombardia, which muses on on the dish's origins and execution throughout.
      I'm wondering a few things myself. Some folks say that braised veal cannot be reheated, unlike other dishes that benefit from a night in the fridge. I'm also wondering what other sorts of sides -- polenta, say, or the Italian mashed potatoes that Hazan suggests for the ossobuchi in bianco -- would work and/or are traditional.
      So who wants to welcome the new year with some bones with holes?
    • By Chris Amirault
      Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index.
      For our third Cook-Off, we've chosen Indian lamb curry. Yes, it's true: that's a huge category for a cook-off, and saying "Indian" is about as stupidly broad as saying "American." However, like gumbo, there are some basic elements to most of the many, many permutations of this dish, and several cook-off participants wanted to start cooking Indian at home with several options.
      So, instead of choosing a specific lamb curry, I thought that having a conversation about those different permutations (like the gumbo okra/roux discussion, say) would be interesting and fun. I also wanted to avoid too particular ingredients that some of our cook-off pals can't get in certain places.
      A few things that we can discuss, photograph, and share include:
      -- the spice mixture: If you've never toasted your own spices, then you have a world of aromatic wonder ahead. I'm sure many people can share their ingredients, ratios, and toasting tips for curry powders that will blow away the garbage in your grocery's "spice" aisle. We can also have the ground vs. whole debate, if there are takers!
      -- the paste: many curry dishes involve frying a blended paste of onion, garlic, and/or ginger, along with the spices, in oil or ghee (clarified butter). I found that learning how to cook that paste -- which requires the same sort of patience demanded by roux -- was the key to making a deep, rich curry.
      -- accompaniments: rice dishes or bread (I have a pretty good naan recipe that I'd be glad to try out again).
      Here are a couple of related eGullet threads:
      lamb kangari
      a lamb and goat thread
      If anyone finds more, post 'em!
      So: find yourself a leg of lamb to bone, sharpen your knives, and get ready to update your spice drawer!
    • By Chris Amirault
      Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index.
      This cook-off focuses on felafel. I've enjoyed fine felafel here in the US and overseas, but I have literally no idea how to make this, the national street food of at least a handful of Middle Eastern countries. Several people who have recommended this cook-off did so because, while they felt they had some clues, they didn't really have a consistently successful recipe or method. Sounds like a good cook-off topic, eh?
      There are a few topics on the felafel matter, including this one on tips and tricks, an older topic that finds more woes than techniques, and this preparation topic, How Do You Like Your Falafel? I also found this recipe by Joan Nathan, which seems like it might be useful.
      But what do I know? Not much, I'll tell you. Time to chime in, you!
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...