Ratatouille’s Ratatouille (Thomas Keller’s Confit Byaldi)

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Ratatouille's Ratatouille (Thomas Keller's Confit Byaldi)

Ratatouille’s Ratatouille is by far my most elaborate and crazy cooking attempt. It took me 4 hours. Phew. My Wild Mushroom Quiche for Nutriplus baking competition looked easy compared to this dish. The 4 hours of hard work was worth it after the photo received lots of “wow” when I posted on my social media accounts and it was featured on Sorted Food’s Eye Candy Video

Normally I would not even finish reading complicated recipes or try to simplify them but this time I decided to challenge myself in cooking with French techniques. Sometimes we just had to try new things and constantly challenge ourselves. Learning, living, making mistakes, pushing yourself, stretching, growing much more than we ever thought possible. Don’t worry if you make mistakes. Try and try again, just like Remy – the rat with a whisk and a dream.

This recipe is not the usual ratatouille recipe where the vegetables are fried before baking. Top French chefs had been preparing the ratatouille vegetables in thin slices (known as confit byaldi) instead of the traditional rough-cut ratatouille. American celebrity chef Thomas Keller of the acclaimed French Laundry restaurant did a variation to the “byaldi” dish in his cookbook, The French Laundry Cookbook, which was later used in the movie Ratatouille. His variation added two sauces, a tomato and bellpepper sauce at the bottom (pipérade), and a vinaigrette at the top, and serving the dish by fanning the vegetables out accordion-style.

Ratatouille's Ratatouille (Thomas Keller's Confit Byaldi)

Left: Using casserole dish to finish up the sliced vegetables. Right: After 2 hours and 30mins in the oven

According to Thomas Keller’s recipe, a pipérade is made of peeled, finely chopped and reduced peppers, yellow onions, tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. The pipérade is spread thinly in a baking tray or casserole dish, then layered on top with evenly sized, thinly sliced rounds of zucchini, yellow squash, Japanese eggplant, and roma tomatoes, covered in parchment paper, then baked slowly for several hours to steam the vegetables. The parchment is removed so that the vegetables may then roast, acquiring more flavor through caramelization. To serve, the pipérade is formed into a small mound, and the rounds arranged in a fanned-out pattern to cover the piperade base and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette around the dish.

Are you tired yet just reading the description? The total cooking time took me longer than it should have been, due to the high precision in the mise-en place which I’m not used to. The mise-en place could have been faster if a mandoline is used for slicing and if I can finely dice at a faster pace. I was struggling with manually slicing the vegetables into 1/16 inch (how can that be done without a mandoline is beyond me). You would have noticed these slices were definitely far from 1/16 inch. It reminded me of how Julia Child practice dicing onions for hours and days to get it perfected in the movie “Julie & Julia”. I too need to get into the long hours of practice sessions. Mastery is key. 

Ratatouille's Ratatouille (Thomas Keller's Confit Byaldi)Ratatouille's Ratatouille (Thomas Keller's Confit Byaldi)

This confit byaldi recipe makes such a beautiful and elegant presentation, with lightly caramelized and savory flavors. Despite the delicate preparation and presentation, confit biyaldi, like most ratatouilles, improves with age overnight in the refrigerator. Even though I’ve not tasted ratatouille before, I felt the flavours are a tad bland. Adding a bit more vinaigrette greatly enhanced the overall taste.

Having recovered from this attempt, now I’m off to find my next challenge. Hmm.. what’s next? What do you suggest?

5.0 from 5 reviews
Ratatouille's Ratatouile (Thomas Keller's Confit Byaldi)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: French
Serves: 4
Ingredients
PIPERADE
  • 2 Red Bellpepper (Capsicum) - seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced Garlic
  • ½ cup finely diced Yellow Onion
  • 340g (12 ounce) Tomatoes - peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved
  • 1 sprig Fresh Thyme
  • 1 sprig Flat-leaf Parsley
  • ½ a Bay Leaf
  • Salt to taste
VEGETABLES
  • 1 Green Zucchini (100g or 4ounces) - thinly sliced
  • 1 Yellow Zucchini (100g or 4ounces) - thinly sliced
  • 1 Japanese Eggplant (100g or 4ounces) - thinly sliced
  • 4 Tomatoes - thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon Minced Garlic
  • 2 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
VINAIGRETTE
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • Thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper.
Instructions
  1. For piperade, heat oven to 232C or 450F. Place pepper halves (cut side down) on a foil-lined tray. 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.
  3. Heat oven to 135C (275F). Spread piperade in bottom of an 20cm (8-inch) baking dish or casserole dish.
  4. From the side of dish, arrange a strip of alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that ¼ 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 dish is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.
  5. 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.)
  6. For vinaigrette, take a tablespoon of piperade from the baking dish, combine with oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
  7. To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Slice in quarters and very carefully lift onto plate with spatula (preferably an offset spatula). Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.
Notes
If there are leftover vegetables, stir fry them with the vinaigrette.

 

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25 Comments

  1. Pingback: Ratatouille: the movie, the inspiration and the invention | Emma & the Chef

  2. It’s excellent! I took pictures during the process, but found yours so much better so decided to link to your blog:
    http://sillyapron.com/2014/10/01/ratatouille/
    Thank you!

  3. Pingback: Ratatouille | Silly Apron

  4. Mines in the oven now. It looked beautiful add I put it in. Don’t have Japanese eggplant around my neck of the woods, so just used “regular”. Smells delicious.

    Only change I made; I’m not a fan of chunky sauces, so I blended the piperade. It had such a beautiful orange /red color (tasted great, too! ).

  5. Never made a ratatouille before, followed these basic guidelines and it was delicious. I’m usually more of a meat eater but this was definitely the best vegitarian dish i’ve made at home. It really did help having a mandolin though, and i’d recommend if your tomatoes are really ripe to firm them up a bit in the freezer to slice them more evenly.

    Oh and I used Thai Globe eggplants, just love the way they cook up, you dont need to salt them they are even tender enough to julienne and eat raw in a salad. To keep from browning I just left them for last and cut them on the mandolin one at a time as needed when puttin it all together.

    Other substitutions (yea I know I hate people who change everything when following a recipe) I used canned tomatoes didnt have enough fresh ones for the sauce and the casserole, turned out great though did add some white wine to mellow it out and i sauteed them a bit longer. Also no thyme so I used fresh basil and a few red pepper flakes, gave it a bit more of an italian flavor.

    • Glad you love this vegetarian dish Steve, and having the patience for this dish. It does pay off well :)
      And thanks for sharing the wonderful tips. Great idea about slightly freezing the ripe tomatoes to firm up. I didn’t know eggplants can be eaten raw, I think I’ll give it a pass :)
      Go ahead and substitute, I’m someone who always substitute and encourage others to tweak recipes with whatever ingredients they have. That’s when people who are not used to cooking learn to create new stuff, and most importantly have fun with it.

  6. I saw your Ratatouille picture on Sorted and I just loved the way it looked! Just made some and it’s wonderful!

  7. How would you prep the eggplants? Mine would turn black quite fast after slicing them…

    • Hi June, I sprinkle some salt on the sliced eggplant (this also helps to drain out the moisture from the eggplant). Another method is to put the eggplant in a bowl of water and lemon juice

  8. I have personally never tasted ratatouile before either, but I loved the movie :-)

    It does look tempting though. The images are so nice and colorfull!
    Julie Henriksen recently posted..Melkeskummer – Bodum Latte MelkeskummerMy Profile

  9. i’ve actually attempted sth similar, although yours looks much better. that bright purple is just to die for. our boring german eggplant is usually a little too bitter for the gentle sensibilities of the tomatoes and zucchini, so i just leave it out when i can|t find younger specimens. also, i make the pepper sauce with ordinary onions, and add crushed garlic, as well as diced. the crushed stuff stews and gets sweet as the sauce cooks :)

    • Your method sounds so much easier, will try it if I ever attempt cooking this dish again. Most probably just the usual ratatouille. Thanks for your kind compliments Anja :)

  10. I love this beautiful creation. Kudos to you! I really like Thomas Keller but I am a dessert and bread with a little savory thrown in there for good measure. ..lol… That looks so delicious!
    Bea recently posted..My Cookbook Review ” LICK THE BOWL GOOD ” by Monica HollandMy Profile

  11. This ratatouilles looks delicious and healthy! I want to try it! Love your pictures

  12. Shannon, what a beauty! I can’t imagine myself slaving for hours just to prepare veges and I salute you!
    Phong Hong recently posted..Cauliflower Fried “Rice”My Profile

  13. Oh Shannon, this has got to be the most beautiful ratatouille ever! I’m sure it’s as delicious as it looks, but if someone set that in front of me, I would have to look at it for quite a while. Just lovely!
    mjskit recently posted..Spice it up with Fiery Chocolate ShotsMy Profile

  14. Pretty amazing dish I must say…salute to you! I don’t think I have the patience to do this:P Happy Chinese New Year to you!

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