Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ratatouille - Confit Byaldi

Copyright 2011 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
The year was 2007 and the world's most famous French chef was a rat named Remy. Sounds familiar? Well, it should be if you are a fan of of the animated film Ratatouille from Pixar. As with most animated films, I take my sweet time to watch them and wait until I visit my nephew and nieces in Illinois because by the time I get there, they already have a copy of the movie on DVD (something that I'm thankful for since it saves me a trip to the movie house). While not my favorite animated film, it is definitely in my top five and that's just because the movie involves cooking and Remy who was out to follow his passion for cooking, is someone who I can definitely relate to (not the rodent bit) .

Copyright 2011 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
The movie is named after the signature dish that becomes the focal point of the plot. In reality, it is a fairly organic and rustic dish that has evolved quite a bit. The layered concept evolved around 1976 and became an important aspect of the movie. They needed to present the dish in a more elegant way that will translate well on the big screen. The conceptualized version of ratatouille in the movie is therefore an almost deconstructed version of the original dish which drew inspiration from the Turkish eggplant dish, Imam Bayildiwhich is comprised of layers of eggplants, tomatoes and onions. The recipe as created by chef Thomas Keller for the movie was printed in the New York times as Confit Byaldi and this is the recipe that I have been using the number of times I made this dish.

*Ratatouille (Confit Byaldi) - Adapted

1 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup finely diced yellow onion
6 tomatoes (about 24 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved
2 sprig thyme
2 sprig flat-leaf parsley
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt

1. Heat oven to 450°F. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut 
    side down. Roast until the skin blisters, about 15 minutes. Remove 
    from heat and let rest in a bowl covered with clingfilm until cool 
    enough to handle. Deseed and peel the skin off and chop finely.

2. In a saucepan, simmer about an inch of water and drop the whole 
    tomatoes. Simmer until the skin starts to blister and peels off easily. 
    Remove from heat and cool slightly. Peel completely and deseed 
    over a sieve to catch any liquid from the tomatoes. Dice finely.  

3. Heat the oil in a skillet over low heat and add the garlic, and onion 
    until very soft but not browned. Add tomatoes, their juices, 
    thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very 
    soft and very little liquid remains. Do not brown. 

4. Add the peppers and simmer to soften them. Season with salt and  
    discard the herbs. Let it cool slightly and put in a blender and blitz.
    Reserve a tablespoon of mixture and spread the remainder in the 
    bottom of an 9x13 baking dish.

1 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds 
1 Japanese eggplant, (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds 
1 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds 
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds 
1/2 tsp minced garlic 
2 tsp olive oil 
1/8 tsp thyme leaves 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat oven to 275°F. Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 
    alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 
    1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap 
    vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward 
    center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.

2.  Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and 
     pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and 
     crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when 
     tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 
    30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) 

3. At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up 
    to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350°F oven until warm.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

1. Combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and 
    pepper to taste in a bowl.

2. To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly 
    browned. Slice in quarters and very carefully lift onto plate with 
    an offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into a 
    fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.

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