guest post:: rob tries to outcook me.

my cohort in san francisco, rob is now galavanting around the united states (but should really move to la. cough). his favorite activities include using large words, listening to rap music, making fun of others, and cooking. and well, he’s pretty good at cooking. and he really likes to cook large animals bone-in. so i generally do not participate in the eating. (and some of the following pictures kinda make me want to vomit…) but according to my sister, he makes a good elk.

greetings from the scenic south. when mia submitted for guest bloggers i knew i had to cook something. and because it’s the end of summer when pretty much EVERYTHING is in season, i knew i had to make ratatouille. i know there’s already a ratatouille recipe on this blog, but i wanted to share a different (read: tastier) way of making it. it also takes less work because you let the oven do everything.

here’s what you’ll need: wine is essential. you’ll notice there’s no fresh tomatoes, which was a conscious choice at the grocery store because the fresh tomatoes looked gross. canned tomatoes get an unfair shake, and san marzano tomatoes are better than most fresh tomatoes i’ve ever put in my mouth. ask any grandmother that grew up on the east coast and they’ll tell you about the san marzano. so good — super sweet. get those or get fresh ones or make something without tomatoes.

 oh yea, and i’m not a vegetarian so there’s lamb, but you can certainly make this without it and it will still be delicious.
personally, i think lamb is basically never out of place unless you’re making pancakes, which this is not.

 first, cut up a red onion. you can use a yellow onion but i think red ones are spicier.

if you’re also making lamb, you’re going to want to trim it of the silverskin, which is a translucent membrane covering the meat. it tastes really gamey and feels gross. also, cut up the eggplant and chop a bunch of garlic.

now you need to sweat a lot of things.
you’re going to sweat onions in a dutch oven (or any deep, heavy pot that’s oven safe).

you’re going to sweat the chopped up eggplant with a lot of salt in a bowl to get the bitterness out
(you’ll see it — it’s brown).

you’re also going to cover the lamb with salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, and olive oil and let it hang out.

while the sweating is happening, chop up the summer squash and zucchini into pieces similar in size to the eggplant.

also, pour a can of san marzanos into a bowl and crush those puppies up with your hand.
it’s messy — wear an apron.

when the onions look like this:

 you’re ready to add things (you’re going to want to sweat the eggplant for close to an hour, which is about as long as onions take to get this delicious). ratatouille is assembled in layers. add some squash and eggplant.

then pour some of the crushed tomato mixture over it.

add more squash and eggplant, then pour more tomatoes on it. you get the idea. repeat until you’re out of squash, eggplant, and tomatoes and press it all into an even layer.

grind salt and pepper over the top, add a few bay leaves, some tarragon, some lemon juice, and some herbs de provence if you have some.

throw the lid on and let it chill out on the stove if you’re going to make the lamb (if you’re not, skip the following steps, obviously).
get a skillet hot with a bunch of oil and butter in it to sear the outside of the shoulder.

when it’s nice and brown, take it out, roll it up, and stick it in the middle of the ratatouille.

now, slide the pot (with or without it’s delicious lamb) into the oven at 275 degrees for at least two hours (it’s pretty much impossible to overcook it at this temperature so you could safely cook it for up to four and it would be even more delicious, though you’ll want to take the lamb out after two). that’s it! take it out of the oven, take the lid off, and eat it. you’re really supposed to let it cool for a little bit but that’s not going to be possible with the smells and all.

yes, this is a lot of words for not actually that much work. ratatouille is a special dish. you can pretty much only make it this time of year, so take advantage.

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