Has any of you ever seen the film Ratatouille? The Pixar one? It’s absolute crap, wasn’t it? I was raging.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s a basic outline. It’s essentially about a boy with no particular talents who is employed in a world-famous restaurant because his dying mother insists, after which he single-handedly destroys its reputation, causes all of its staff to lose their jobs and brings about a rat infestation in the kitchen. His girlfriend, a talented chef and the only female character of any importance in the film, then has to take second place to a rodent that has inexplicably learned how to cook from tv-chefs.
The film is set in Paris, but, as with all Pixar films, the language is English. Disaster-boy is the only character that speaks normally, all of the other characters speak English, but with French accents.
The things that outrages me most of all, is how the name of this film, and the dish, is pronounced. Radatoowee. No. No, dammit. Just, no.
At least they did a decent job on the food. The ratatouille they did was the pretty, layered one. The sauce looked nice. But I’m still doing the more rustic one, because I think that even though it’s not as pretty, it’s nicer. If you slice up the vegetables and layer them on top of the sauce it looks pretty, but the vegetables don’t get stewed as much. You can do it any way you fancy, it’s one of those dishes that are different in every household. I like to stew the veg as much as possible, and ratatouille is not really that fancy, so it’s not a problem if it looks a bit rustic.
If you happen to have the time, you could prepare the whole dish and then put it in the fridge for a night, then pop it in the oven the next day. The flavours will be amazing and mixed and it’ll be super tasty. But if you don’t have the time for that it’s fine too.
For four people you’ll need:
- 1 onion
- a few cloves of garlic (I used three medium ones)
- a couple of handfuls of thyme sprigs
- a generous kilo of tomatoes
- 4 peppers, 2 yellow, 2 red
- 2 aubergines
- 2 courgettes
- bread, to serve
Wash the aubergines and dice them. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over them, stick it all in a big sieve or colander and put a wee plate on top of it, weighed down with something heavy. Leave for at least half an hour whilst you make the sauce.
Stick a yellow and a red pepper under the grill. They’re meant to go pretty dark, if the skin goes black that’s OK. Turn them occasionally so they are roasted all way around. Once they’re done, put them in a plastic bag and tie a knot in it. After they’ve been in there for a few minutes you should be able to easily peel off the skin. Once you have, remove the seeds and chop up the flesh.
Cut shallow crosses in the tomatoes and chuck them in boiling water for about a minute and a half, then rinse with cold water. Now you can easily strip off the skin. Then remove all of the green bits on top and chop the tomatoes up finely.
Chop up an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic. Fry them gently in some olive oil, along with the leaves of a handful of thyme sprigs. Then add the tomatoes and the peppers. Stir, add a tiny amount of boiling water, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Stick on a lid and leave to simmer for ages, stirring occasionally, until it’s a smooth sauce.
Wash and chop up the courgettes and fry them in some olive oil. Do the same with the last two remaining peppers, but in a separate pan, not together with the courgette. Drain and dry the aubergine chunks and fry them separately, too.
Chuck all of the vegetable chunks in an oven dish (preferably a deep one) and add another handful of thyme leaves. Then top with the sauce. Try to make the sauce sink in a bit so that the vegetable chunks get simmered. If your oven dish has a lid you could leave it on and keep the sauce liquid, I just stuck it in like that so that you get a little veggie crust on top. Leave it in the oven for at least half an hour at 200 degrees.
Serve with nice brown bread.