Many many years ago my husband and I went to see the Pixar film Ratatouille and not only fell in love with the character, but with the food as well. I mean, if digital food looked that amazing, why can’t the real life stuff look that way too? We did some research and found out that Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se fame, was a consultant on the movie. Furthermore, we learned that the recipe that they used in the end of the film was based off of his own Confit Byaldi. So my husband found Thomas Keller’s recipe waaaay back in 2007 and it has sat in my inbox since then.
However, this past Saturday, after spending way too many evenings eating out, I was inspired to put in about 4 hours of work (yes my friends, this isn’t a quick throw together type of meal) and finally make it. It was more of a challenge to myself than anything else, but really it wasn't that hard, just a whole lot of mise en place. I upped the veggies count in a lot of places and tweaked a few other things, but in general this is pretty close to Chef Kellers recipe.
Other than looking at the beautiful finished product and feeling extremely proud, it tasted pretty delicious as well. So enjoy!
Confit Byaldi or Ratatouille
1 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
4 tomatoes (quickly blanch so you can peel seed and finely dice, juices reserved)
2 sprig thyme
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
2 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds
2 Japanese eggplant, (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
2 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
5 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
2 teaspoon minced garlic 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 springs of thym (remove leaves from the spring)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oi
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
Have an oval pan, about 12 inches long and 8 inches wide
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1. For piperade, heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.
2. Combine oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs. Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.
3. For vegetables, heat oven to 275 degrees. Down center of pan, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Add a pinch or two of salt to each layer. 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.
4. 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.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.)
5. For vinaigrette, combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
6. To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Slice in quarters and very carefully lift onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.