Closed Captioned For The Thinking Impaired

Monday, February 25, 2008

And The Oscar Goes to....... Ratatouille!

Congratulations to Ratatouille creators & Pixar Studios for its Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film!

Is this the first time a movie about a restaurant & the love of food has won an award?
I know Mostly Marta, Tampopo, Eat Drink Man Woman & Big Night were critically acclaimed but it's probably the first time a lovable rat with Top Chef aspirations has won.

Way to go, Remy!

Here's a link to the N.Y. Times article on Ratatouille featuring Thomas Keller who worked with Pixar's crew to give the restaurant scenes verisimilitude: Click here for the June 2007 article.

This recipe is dedicated to the little Remy in all of us who aspire to be better at whatever we love most.

(Thomas Keller's Confit Biyaldi)

This is Thomas Keller's original recipe for the movie, Ratatouille, originally printed in the New York Times. It is a more refined Turkish version of the dish with similar flavor profiles called vegetable byaldi and an excellent vegetarian main dish for the midwinter veggie blahs.

Of course it would be fab in the summer when tomatoes are their most luscious; but, if you use cherry tomatoes or quality canned tomatoes for the piperade & roma tomatoes for the sliced vegetables the oven roasting will bring out the tomato essence, even now.

If you're really averse to using hot house or imported tomatoes then substitute slices of fennel bulb for the sliced vegetables (but not the piperade, used canned tomatoes there). It will impart a different but equally delicious flavor and texture to the dish. This would be a stellar side dish for a simple grilled fish or roasted chicken.

It differs from the French version by slicing instead of dicing the veggies & uses a piperade & a vinaigrette over the vegetables instead cooking them in a tomato ragout. It makes for a very elegant presentation in its casserole dish & offers more subtle flavors. I'm posting the picture of Remy's ratatouille from the movie.

In the article, Chef Keller calls it Confit Byaldi but a ratatouille by any other name would taste as good.... (Okay, now I've paraphrased both Thomas Keller & Shakespeare. Hot Dog, I'm on a roll!)


  • 1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 a bay leaf
  • Kosher salt


  • 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 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
  • 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. 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.

Yield: 4 servings

No comments: