I love movies that focus around food and cooking. One of which is the Pixar blockbuster film “Ratatouille.” Almost every scene in that movie is mouthwatering, as if you want to reach into the screen, grab the food and eat it. And that’s just by watching an animation movie!
What Exactly Is Ratatouille?
Obviously, the main star of the Pixar animation film is the traditional French vegetable dish called ratatouille. Originated from Nice and also called ratatouille niçoise, ratatouille is specifically made of stewed vegetables.
Ratatouille comes from the French word “ratouiller” which means “to stir up.” Originally in the 18th century France, ratatouille was just a plain vegetable stew. However, modern versions add more ingredients and techniques. Pure ratatouille simply requires various vegetables being cooked individually at first and combined together through slow cooking. The result is a creamy and smooth consistency.
There are so many versions of ratatouille all over the world. We have lecsó from Hungary, tombet from Majorca, samfaina from Catalonia and other exotic versions. In the movie, the version of Linguini, Colette and Remy is based on Michel Guérard’s very own confit byaldi.
What Is Confit Byaldi?
Confit byaldi derives its name from a Turkish dish called imam bayildi, which is mainly composed of stuffed eggplant. Originally before baking, the vegetables must be fried first. But starting 1976, chefs in France began slicing the vegetables thinly. Years before, the classic ratatouille was roughly cut. Guérard decided to skip frying and just focus on baking, adding mushrooms and removing peppers.
How to Make Confit Byaldi
Since we aim to recreate the iconic “Ratatouille” dish, let’s focus on making a confit byaldi:
Well-sharpened chef knife
Ice water bath
Food processor/ blender
Ingredients (4-5 Servings)
4 red tomatoes (blanched, peeled, sliced thinly into shingles, seeds on)
1 zucchini (skin on, sliced thinly into shingles)
1 yellow zucchini (skin on, sliced thinly into shingles)
1 eggplant (skin on, sliced thinly into shingles)
2 white onions (chopped coarsely)
3 red bell peppers (chopped coarsely)
1 whole garlic (chopped coarsely)
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C).
- Bring an adequate amount of water to a boil in a stock pot, over high heat. Wash the tomatoes and cut an X mark at the bottom of the tomatoes. Place them in the rapidly boiling water, and blanch until the skin begins to peel off (approximately 10-40 seconds). Remove them from the boiling water and cool them in an ice water bath to stop the carryover cooking. Peel the skin.
- Slice the zucchini, yellow zucchini and eggplant into rondelles or round slices, approximately 2 mm in thickness, either by using a mandolin or a chef knife. Slice the tomatoes thinly by only using a chef knife because of their delicacy. Place them separately on a tray lined with parchment paper. Keep the scraps that will be later added to the sauce or vegetable coulis.
- In a sauce pan or skillet, place the onions, bell pepper, garlic, scraps from sliced vegetables, and olive oil. Season lightly with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Cook over medium heat until vegetables turn very soft.
- Place the vegetables on a food processor, add olive oil and rosemary, and season lightly with salt if needed. Grind until pureed.
- Heat a sauté pan over very low heat and spread enough vegetable coulis to cover its bottom. Place the vegetables over the sauce in a single layer. Arrange the vegetables in a standing alternating sequence, starting from the edge of the pan until concentric circles are formed, covering the whole pan. Pour a small amount of olive oil by circling around each layer. Sprinkle a small amount of rosemary for added aroma.
- Cover the pan with a parchment paper or lid. Place the pan in the oven and bake at 300˚F (149˚C) for approximately 90 minutes (depending on the thickness of the vegetable slices).
- Remove from the oven and discard the parchment paper.
- Get a portion of the confit byaldi and plate it manually using a ring mold to get Remy’s plating style. Scoop a small amount of vegetable coulis from the pan and pour it on the confit byaldi. Garnish with chopped chives or parsley. Serve warm.
Confit Byaldi Variation: Appletouille
This is an original confit byaldi variation from ChefSteps. It would be the perfect dessert after eating the classic confit byaldi.
Well-sharpened chef knife/mandolin (for quick slicing)
Sauté pan/glass casserole (round)
Ingredients (4-5 servings)
2 red apples
2 green apples
2 yellow apples (opal)
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup soft whole butter
1 cup all-purpose cream
1 tsp. cinnamon powder
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C).
- Remove the stickers and wash the apples thoroughly. Slice the apples thinly into rondelles either by using a chef knife or a mandolin. Make sure not to include the core and seeds of the apple on the slices. Place them separately on a tray lined with parchment paper or in a clean sanitized container. Discard scraps. Additional note: Make sure to work each task quickly to avoid excessive browning of the apples’ flesh.
- In a sauté pan or casserole, combine the white sugar, soft whole butter and all-purpose cream. Place on the stove top over low heat and cook until simmering. Remove from the stove top and sprinkle the cinnamon powder on the sauce.
- Place the apples in a single layer. Arrange the apples in a standing alternating sequence, starting from the edge of the pan/casserole until concentric circles are formed, covering the whole pan.
- Place the pan/casserole in the oven and bake at 300˚F (149˚C) for approximately 30 minutes (depending on the thickness of the apple slices).
- Remove the pan/casserole from the oven.
- Garnish the appletouille with a scoop (or more) of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Sprinkle a small amount of grated cheddar cheese. Serve.
I’m amazed how there are a lot of variations of ratatouille – even sweet ones! It would be so nice to organize a ratatouille party with family and friends. I’m sure they will never forget it.