Ratatouille's been discussed before. Several forumites shared their favorite versions in the the thread below, which is a good read:http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=40972&p=337196&hilit=+MFK+Fisher#p337196
It includes the MFK Fisher "recipe", which is more a literarily lucid, almost erotic description of the first ratatouille Ms. Fisher had, an extraordinarily long cooked version involving lots of eggplant and no zucchini, in Dijon. I had shared that up from her book Long Ago in France
, and had even tried making her version myself, something I remember as having outstanding flavor but which I could not take more than one bite of, as it occurred during the period of years in which I had an on-off allergy to eggplant. Strangely, sometimes I could eat eggplant and sometimes I couldn't, but I'd definitely know on the first bite which would prevail that day.
I now seem to have outgrown the allergy, and a bounty of beautiful eggplants priced the other day at just 99 cents each inspired me to try this ratatouille again.
And, oh my! It will never replace the melange of roasted vegetables I prep separately and then cook together at the end, which is meant to be eaten with a fork and usually served as a meat side dish, or on its own stuffed in a crepe or on couscous, but then that dish will never be the profoundly rich vegetable goo best eaten slathered on slices of crusty bread that this dish is.
I served it with a 2001 Bordeaux, because I got lazy while looking for a certain Cotes du Rhone, but the sweeter fruit of a good Rhone would be the better choice.
I took both notes and pictures, which usefully (I hope) show
Here's what went into my ratatouille:
2 Italian eggplants, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic minced, plus one more clove for later
3 baseball sized tomatoes
herbs d' provence
1 tsp kosher salt plus fresh pepper
About 1/4 c EVOO
Lid on, this baked at 300 for two hours, the first point I checked it at, and found it fairly swimming in accumulated liquids. An hour later the liquids were significantly reduced, and I set the timer for another hour later where I guessed I'd pull the dish, which in fact I did--four hours total vs. Ms. Fisher's six. At that point, the flavors were nothing short of divine, but another clove of garlic and another pinch of Hd'P boosted the seasoning to absolute perfection and it was ready to serve. Easily one of the best ratatouilles I've ever had, but never as a side dish vs. as the star of its own meal as a topping for crusty bread with a crisp green salad.
The pictures below show the dish before cooking and after, demonstrating the dramatic reduction. Doesn't look like much but would easily serve six.