Sunday 19 May 2019

Clodagh McKenna: A rustic French classic that goes wonderfully with hake

This week chef Clodagh McKenna makes an autumnal vegetable stew with olives and capers

French ratatouille
French ratatouille
Clodagh McKenna

Clodagh McKenna

This week I am writing from Paris, the mother city of gastronomy. I have come here to eat my way around the city’s newest, most innovative restaurants, and find inspiration. Here are the highlights from my gastrotour around the City of Lights.

I started off with supper in Bistrot Paul Bert in the 11th arrondissement, a fantastic, classic French bistro where I had delicious squid cooked with preserved lemons before moving on to a beautifully cooked côte du boeuf with béarnaise sauce. This was followed by a jaw-dropping dessert — choux pastry with praline crème. The restaurant was packed, with tables squished together, the perfect French bistro experience.

The next day, I went to Clamato, also in the 11th, for what would be without doubt the best lunch of the year. I kicked off with oysters from Blainville-sur-Mer in Normandy.

Then came three sensational dishes — line-caught red tuna, Sicilian pomegranate and red chicory, pollock ceviche from Quessant, physalis and chulpe and line-caught horse mackerel with burnt bread sauce and mustard. All of these dishes were simply outstanding.

I would honestly head straight back just to eat lunch here again.

A few others for your Paris travel notes are Carbon, Frenchie and Le Grand Colbert.

Inspired by all things French, I am cooking this wonderful ratatouille, a classic French meal that goes so well with other dishes.

Personally, I love serving it with roast chicken, hake, lamb, beef, couscous or even wrapped in pasta. Toss it with cooked fusilli and place in an oven-proof dish, then tear some mozzarella on top and grate Parmesan cheese over it. Place in a hot oven for 10 minutes and you have a fabulous pasta bake. I have added capers and olives to give more interesting salty and earthy flavours.

French ratatouille

Serves: 6

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Serve with: Côtes du Rhône

Belleruche, 2016

Ingredients

3 aubergines

3 courgettes

3 red peppers

2 red onions

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 cans of tinned cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp capers

1 tbsp back olives, chopped

1 tbsp dried oregano

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tbsp olive oil

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Cut the aubergines, onions, courgettes and red peppers into two-inch cubes. Place the vegetables and crushed garlic in a roasting tray with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and ground black pepper and toss well to make sure all the vegetables are coated with the oil and seasoning.

3. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove the roasted vegetables and stir in the tinned cherry tomatoes, black olives, capers and dried orgeano. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

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