Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Chicken Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a 2007 computer animated comedy film in which the antagonist, Remy the Rat, aspires to be a cook, being inspired by a famous chef, Auguste Gusteau. He starts by helping Linguini, a hopeful chef in the making, and ultimately wins over France's top restaurant critic, Anton Ego's heart and soul by preparing for him a simple 'Ratatouille'.

And there begins my journey; my journey to find a recipe for ratatouille that will find its way into the hearts of my family, just as the movie.

Ratatouille is a traditional French stewed vegetable dish with tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, squash and bell pepper and is usually served as a side dish. There is much debate on how to make the traditional ratatouille; to sauté all the vegetables together in a pot (this is how Anto's mum cooks the dish in the cartoon) or to prepare the sauce with tomatoes, spices and herbs and later layer it with zucchini and eggplant in a baking dish and bake in the oven (this i guess is how Remy prepares the dish in the cartoon). This dish for the movie was designed by gourmet chef Thomas Keller and his dish later came to be known as confit byaldi.

With all that information about the movie and the dish comes my next dilemma. The traditional recipe is quite bland for our palate and has no meat in it :(. No way can I cook this in my kitchen and get away with it.

And then, one day we have chicken ratatouille served for lunch at our Cafe at work. I end up talking with their cook (who is a very nice lady) and she gives me a fair idea of how she prepares her ratatouille.

And the long wait is over. Ratatouille is 'born' in my kitchen !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Serves: 6 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

  • ½ kg boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into thin slices (after cutting into 4 lengthwise)
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1½ brown onion. chopped
  • 4 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced
  • ½ cup of basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 2 dry red chilly
  • A dash of paprika
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
1. Pam-grill chicken, eggplant, zucchini and capsicum seperately with salt.
2. Heat olive oil in a large flat pan. Sauté onion, garlic, dry chilly and anchovy fillets until soft. Add tomato salt, pepper and paprika. Combine well and cook gently for 10 minutes. Add chicken, parsley and basil and simmer for a few more minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 160°C. Pour the chicken and tomato mixture on a flat baking dish, top with grilled veggies. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and bake in oven for 15 to minutes. Serve hot with rice or pasta.

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