Joined: 08 Jan 2006 Posts: 29 Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posted: Thu May 18, 2006 11:14 am Post subject: help me with my ratatouille, i beg you
ratatouille season is right around the corner and i'm hoping that i can get it right this year. ratatouille should be easy enough to make, but i can never get it right and i'm not sure why. it's one of the few dishes i just can't master. maybe i cook it too long, add too much stuff, who knows. does anyone have suggestions and foolproof recipes?
Joined: 08 Jan 2006 Posts: 35 Location: Montreal, QC
Posted: Thu May 18, 2006 1:10 pm Post subject:
I was taught that in a true ratatouille all of the vegetables should be cooked separately and then combined at the end of the dish. They vegetables should be cooked separately so that their individual flavours can be concentrated without being "adulterated" or influenced by other vegetables cooking in close proximity.
Julia Child has a great recipe in The Way to Cook. If I can make it, that means it's truly foolproof. It does require cooking the zucchini and eggplant separately, but it's really not that big of a hassle. Then you can combine the onions, tomatoes, garlic and peppers. Then layer the tomato mixture, eggplant, zucchini till all gone and bake.
Joined: 29 Sep 2004 Posts: 2498 Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Posted: Thu May 18, 2006 5:36 pm Post subject:
Here is the recipe I use for "company" ratatouille. I've used it for years and highly recommend it. In the notes you'll see two other approaches. I learned the layered dutch oven variation when I lived in France and used it for ages before I got the "Niçoise" recipe.
Clotilde also did an entry on ratatouille that you could do a search for on the blog.
Keep in mind even mushy ratatouille is delicious cold and makes a great base for soup with a little pistou.
3 medium-sized eggplant, cut into 2-inch cubes
4 medium-sized zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 2" pieces
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
6 medium-sized yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 medium-sized red, green or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2" strips
6 small tomatos, peeled, seeded and quartered
8 cloves garlic, minced
20 leaves fresh basil
1 bunch fresh parsley, stems trimmed off
8 sprigs fresh thyme
freshly ground black pepper
Put eggplant and zucchini in 2 separate strainers and toss each with 1 tablespoon of salt. Allow to drain for 30 minutes. Blot with paper towels to dry.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 15 minutes, then transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to same skillet, increase heat to medium-high, add eggplant, and sauté until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer eggplant to a large heavy pot with a cover and spoon a layer of onions on top. Add 2 tablespoons oil and zucchini to skillet and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to pot and cover with a layer of onions. Add 1 tablespoon oil and peppers to skillet and sauté until edges turn brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to pot and cover with a layer of onions.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to skillet, add tomatoes, garlic and basil, lightly crushing tomatoes and cook until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Transfer to pot, add remaining onions, parsley and thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Simmer, partially covered, over low heat, gently stirring occasionally, for an hour and a half. Adjust seasonings, then cook about 30 minutes more.
Serve with rice or pasta and top with crumbled goat cheese.
Notes: This is the more authentic and prettier version of ratatouille. The easy, but distinctly less attractive approach, is to layer the vegetables in a pot with the most firm on the bottom and the tenderest on the top, then add seasonings and simmer partly covered for several hours on the lowest heat possible.
Another approach is to salt and dehydrate the eggplant and zucchini and then roast the whole thing, turning the veggies into a covered casserole at the end to blend the flavors. _________________ God writes a lot of comedy... the trouble is, he's stuck with so many bad actors who don't know how to play funny. -- Garrison Keillor
Joined: 08 Jan 2006 Posts: 29 Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posted: Fri May 19, 2006 1:49 pm Post subject:
well i'm not sure what my problem is when i make ratatouille. it's kind of muchy, which is ok, but the bigger problem is that the flavors aren't as vibrant, they sort of all blend together into nothingness. but i've never tried cooking the veggies seperatly. that might help.
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 Posts: 154 Location: North of Auckland, New Zealand
Posted: Sun May 21, 2006 11:44 pm Post subject:
I just have to say that there is no "true" recipe for ratatouille, every village, family, region etc has a different way of doing things. It just depends more on your personal preference, whether you like it mushy, or would rather have the vegies crisper, oven roasted or cooked on the stove...
Personally I was taught to cook everything in a pot on the stove, until it was mushy... but the vegies still retain some sense of their form. Also we don't use aubergine, but that's just us.
I have tried a recipe where you kind of stirfry everthing, cooking all the vegies indivdually, throwing the beans in right at the very end so they are stil crisp, and it was lovely.
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