Sunday, January 18, 2009

Chicken Ratatouille - From "The Silver Spoon"

This recipe comes from The Silver Spoon, a classic Italian cookbook (and one of the most popular ones) with as much of an impact to Italian home kitchens as The Joy of Cooking is to American home kitchens.
But enough talking, let's get to the cooking!



• The Silver Spoon (you probably shouldn't cook this)
• 1/4 cup butter
• 6 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 onions, quartered
• 3 zucchini, cut into cubes
• 2 eggplants, cut into cubes
• 3 red or yellow bell peppers, halved, seeded and thickly sliced
• 4 tomatoes, peeled, quartered and seeded (I used roma tomatoes, which are a bit smaller--8 of them seem to do the job well)
• 1 chicken, cut into pieces (I used 4 leg quarters)
• 2 garlic cloves
• salt and pepper

Actually, before we get to the cooking, I have to mention--this cookbook was given to me as a Christmas present from my friend Kun, who is a really cool person and I'm really grateful for the cookbook, cause it's full of thousands of awesome recipes that will take me forever to go through. Really. And I'm not just saying this to make myself feel less bad about the fact that she gave this to me for Christmas
2005, and I'm just now using a recipe from it.


Anyway, the recipe calls for thickly sliced bell pepper--in order to do that, we start off by cutting off both ends of the bell pepper.

See how it kind of looks like a cylinder now?

Cut into that cylinder...

...and cut around the core, using the skin as a guide--you're kind of rolling the pepper around the knife, if that makes sense.

The result?  A puny little rectangle of bell pepper skin.  No wonder why these things are so light.

Now we want to cut this rectangle thing into "thick slices," whatever that means.

I went by the picture in the cookbook, and my slices are about that thick.

Cut the eggplant into cubes--I did this by cutting the ends off, then cutting it in half lengthwise.

Then I cut the halves into quarters, and cut cubes (I guess they're more like quarter-circle prisms?) out of those quarters.

But if you want to be cool, you can watch Martin Yan do some sort of crazy rolling-and-cutting technique here.

For the first stage of cooking, we want the bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, and onions prepped.

Heat half of the butter and half of the oil in a pan, and add all that stuff from the last step.  Also, season with salt and pepper.  Salt and pepper are like those friends that stand neglected in the corner at a party, watching all the other friends (ingredients?) mingle, wishing they could join in on the fun but they can't because THEY'RE ALWAYS BEING IGNORED.  Ahem.  Anyway, don't forget to season!  You'd be surprised at how just the right amount of salt will elevate a dish from bland to awesome.  

Now, before this food simile gets out of hand...

Cook over high heat for a few minutes.  Watch
this video (hey, he's doing ratatouille too!) to learn how to toss stuff in a pan, cause it's a pretty handy skill to have.  It's really more of a forward-backward motion, rather than up and down.



Let's ignore those bits of onion on the stove.  Ahem.

After a small while, the vegetables should be a bit softer, like this.

Once they're slightly softer, add the tomatoes that you peeled, quartered, and seeded earlier.

You did do that earlier, right?  No?  Well, make sure you don't accidently stab your hand while trying to peel, quarter, and seed a bunch of tomatoes quickly in order to prevent your other vegetables from burning or turning into a soggy mess.  Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything.

That stab kind of hurt.

Anyway, lower the heat, cover all of this, and simmer for 1 hour.  Yes, 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prep your garlic.

Rather than using a whole chicken, which the recipe calls for, I used 4 leg quarters because I happened to have a bunch of them sitting in my freezer (it also helps that they frequently sell for 99c/lb).

Splitting up a leg quarter into a drumstick and thigh is pretty easy--first, feel around for the joint between the drumstick and thigh.

Once you've found it, cut  through the joint.


Now brown the chicken and garlic...

Add the chicken to the vegetables...

And serve with a baguette, unless the baguette you bought last night turned rock-solid because you forgot to seal it.  In that case, serve with whatever bread you have handy.

Hey, it wouldn't be my food blog if it weren't full of mistakes.


  1. LOL, love that you shared so many pics of the process and your "ahem" moments as well. Looks delish!

  2. Yep! Can't go wrong by following this. Well worth all the effort by the look of it!