Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ratatouille not the Cartoon!

I have tried to cooking this wonderful dish of Ratatouille and failed several times, using different recipes and suggestions from different Chefs and experts including my Provencal friends – It’s either way too complicated or it did not turn out as I wish. What I got out from analyzing each batch and summarized from all notes and experiences is this - sloooowly cook over a lowww heat for a looong time and keep simple method. 
Well, The Ratatouille after I was using my own intuition and the experiences and the result was happiness. You may follow recipes which require salting and blotting Zucchini and Eggplant with or without baking the vegetables and peeing the skin of Sweet Pepper or bake the dish it in the oven if you like. I decided to go on my own way by keeping the basic foundation of ingredients and stewing method. Here is my way of Ratatouille. So I made a pot last week and serve it in all variations.

1 Large Sweet Pepper/Paprika/Capsicum, cut into stripe
1 Medium Eggplant/Aubergine, dice into about ½ inch
1 Medium Zucchini cut half lengthwise and slice into about ¼ inch
1 bulb Fennel (optional), remove stalks and quarter then slice into about ¼ inch
1 large Red Onion halved and slice about ¼ inch thick
5 large Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 large cloves of Garlic, crushed
2 tablespoon chopped Flat Leave Parsley
Herb de Provence
Sea Salt
Fresh ground Black Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Tip before cooking: the trick about cooking Ratatouille is a slow cooking over low heat – stewing, for a long time to get the medley of melted tender vegetables which still in pieces and composition of natural flavor and herbs which combined into one.

  1.       Pour Olive Oil to cover the bottom of a heavy skillet pan over low-medium heat. When the oil hot add Onion and cook until it almost brown to get nice flavor to Ratatouille
  2.      Add cut Vegetables, crush garlic and cook for about 5 minutes
  3.      Add Tomatoes, Herb de Provence, Sea Salt, chopped Flat Leave Parsley and Fresh ground Black Pepper, cook until start boil then reduce the heat and keep it simmer for about 2½-3 hrs – You can transfer to earth ware at this step if you like. If you use the earth ware cover the pot and let it come to boiling point then lower the heat and let it simmer. Make sure it cooks over the low heat
  4.      Finish the Ratatouille by adjusting the flavor with Sea Salt and Fresh ground Black Pepper

Serving Suggestion: can serve this wonderful vegetable stew cold or warm as side dishes for grilled fishes, grilled Lamb, Grill Chicken , Omelet or as Pasta Sauce. Add to Quiche recipe or serve alone or add crumbled Goat cheese and Provencal Olives with fresh Baguette for nice light lunch. Use your imagination for more creations.

The Flavors of Olive Oil: A Tasting Guide and Cookbook

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