Ratatouille is a traditional provençal dish from the south of France, mixing beautifully the aromas of summer vegetables, garlic and herbs such as rosemary, thyme and basil. It is usually made of confit cubed vegetables, such as tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants and red bell peppers, cooked in olive oil over a low heat for a couple of hours, until soft and melting.
Ratatouille is a really versatile dish, with a lot of deep flavours coming from the long cooking process. I can easily remember the good old times back in France when my mom used to make ratatouille: the garlic, vegetables and fresh herbs smell would travel the whole house and tell you to get ready for lunch!
In this dish, we are trying to deconstruct the ratatouille to enhance each vegetable flavour, while giving some extra textures to the original dish.
Serves 4 people.
Make the eggplant purée:
1 tbsp of sea salt
1 clove of garlic
100 mL of olive oil
1 tsp of basil leaves
Lemon juice and pepper to taste
Roast the eggplants over a bare flame until the skin has blistered and blackened. Let the vegetable rest in a bowl covered with cling wrap film until cooled down to room temperature. Resting the vegetables will allow to peel off the skin easily.
Pre-heat the oven to 160º C. Once the eggplants have cooled down, peel the burnt skin and cut in thick slices. Dust the eggplant slices with a bit of sea salt and place them on a baking tray lined with some non stick baking paper. The sea salt will both season the eggplants and help draw the moisture out of them so that the purée does not split.
Once the eggplant flesh is cooked through, place the slices in a food processor together with the crushed garlic, olive oil and basil leaves. Blitz until it forms a smooth paste and pass it through a fine sieve.
Season with lemon juice and pepper to taste. Keep the eggplant purée in a serving bowl. It is traditionally eaten cold but it is just as good when served warm. At this point it is really up to you to decide how you want to have the eggplant purée served. It can easily be kept 5 days in the fridge.
For the zucchini chips:
1 green zucchini
100 g of panko breadcrumbs
75 g of parmesan cheese
1 tsp of sea salt
1 tsp of black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 160º C.
Slice the zucchini very finely, on an angle, using a standard mandolin. Prepare the crumbling station by placing the egg white in one plate and the parmesan, panko breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in another plate.
Dip the zucchini slices in the egg white, removing any excess liquid and then dip them in the crumbling mixture so that they are lightly coated on each side.
Bake the zucchini chips during 35 minutes, turning them half way through the baking process to have an even crisp.
Cook the veal:
400 g of veal loin
3 bunches of rosemary
3 bunches of thyme
150 mL of veal jus
150 mL of veal glaze
Place the veal in a vacuum bag together with the thyme, rosemary bunches and the jus. Using your vacuum machine or domestic vacuum, suck the air out of the bag for the sous vide cooking.
Place the bag in a large sauce pan and cook at 55º C for a medium rare meat (or 60º C for a medium meat), in a warm water bath, for one hour.
For the confit potatoes:
2 russet potatoes
100 mL of veal fat
200 mL of olive oil
Increase the oven temperature to 180º C.
Cut the potatoes in cubes (4 cm side length). Place the potatoes in a 10 cm metal cake ring covered with 3 layers of aluminium foil. Add the veal fats, olive oil, thyme and rosemary and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and pour the cooking oil and fat in a cooking pan over a high heat. Once the cooking oil/fats are smoking hot, quickly pan sear the potatoes on 2 sides to lightly browned them and give them some texture and crispness.
Roast the tomatoes:
16 cherry tomatoes on the vine
1 tbsp of brown sugar
15 mL of balsamic vinegar
30 mL of olive oil
1 bunch of basil
1 bunch of red basil
Mix the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl. Place the cherry tomatoes in a baking tray and spoon the vinegar and oil mixture over the tomatoes. Place a few basil leaves over the tomatoes and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Plate the dish:
Red basil leaves
For the plating, be sure to place the various elements in a generous way, using your imagination to create a beautiful dish. Finish up the dish with some red bell pepper oil (so that all the traditional ratatouille flavours are all there), red basil leaves and basil leaves to give a bit more texture and colour.
Be free to share your creations with us and bon appétit!