Food On The Hill: Confit Byaldi New Mexico

A serving of Confit Byaldi with Vinaigrette. Photo by Felicia Orth
 
Food On THe Hill
By FELICIA ORTH
Los Alamos

Confit Byaldi New Mexico

There’s an awful lot to say about this recipe; I will offer just some of it briefly:

  • The name of the original Turkish dish “Imam Byaldi” translates as “The Imam Fainted.” He swooned because the dish was so tasty, or perhaps because it required the remainder of his wife’s dowry of olive oil.
  • It is the tastiest vegan recipe I know, and is gluten-free as well.
  • Although it is not quickly prepared or quickly cooked, the time spent is worthwhile. This would be a good recipe to make with a friend or family member; active preparation time for a double recipe was well over two hours.
  • This recipe is a modern variation on the French dish Ratatouille, from the recipe that famed French Laundry Chef Thomas Keller created for the movie ‘Ratatouille,’ wherein a talented rat chef cooks such a special ratatouille that he transports the visiting food critic to his childhood with one bite. Like Proust with the Madeleine cookie.
  • The only adaptation below is to double the recipe (too good not to share and/or create some leftovers) and to add roasted New Mexico green chile (because we are in season and the piperade requires roasting three sweet bell peppers anyway).  The green chile could not be detected as a flavor on its own, but it did warm up the dish in the background.
  • Piperade, you ask? Pipérade (pronounced “peep-ay-rod”), native to the Basque region of France, is essentially a sauté of tomatoes, onions and sweet bell peppers in olive oil. It is how the ratatouille recipe is begun; it can also be used as a condiment.

Roasted sweet peppers. Photo by Felicia Orth

  • You may want to pull out your mandoline or other implement for slicing vegetables very thinly—that aspect of the recipe is important to its flavor and its presentation. The mandoline works very well with the squash; I used an extra sharp ceramic knife for the eggplant and tomatoes.
  • This dish is just as good, if not better, the next day. It really is memorably good, even if it wasn’t part of your childhood!

Confit Byaldi New Mexico

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

The Pipérade

1 red pepper, halved, seeds and ribs removed

1 yellow pepper, halved, seeds and ribs removed

1 orange pepper, halved, seeds and ribs removed

3 New Mexico green chile peppers, halved, seeds and ribs removed

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup finely diced yellow onion

6 tomatoes (about 24 ounces total weight), peeled, seeded, finely diced, juices reserved

2 sprigs thyme

2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

1 bay leaf

Kosher salt

The Vegetables

2 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces each) sliced in 1/16-inch rounds

2 Japanese eggplant (4 to 5 ounces each) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds

2 yellow squash (4 to 5 ounces each) sliced into 1/16-inch rounds

8 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Preparation

For Pipérade, heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pepper halves on a foil-lined sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, place in a bowl tightly covered with plastic wrap, and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely. Drop the tomatoes into boiling water for 2 minutes to peel easily; holding each tomato over a bowl to catch the juice, remove the core and seeds.

Combine oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the mixture and spread remainder in bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.

For vegetables, heat oven to 275 degrees. Arrange strips of alternating slices of vegetables in a close spiral over the Pipérade, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.

Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, continue baking or place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.)

For vinaigrette, combine reserved Pipérade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

To serve, heat broiler and place byaldi underneath until lightly browned. Slice and very carefully lift onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.

Vegetables in spirals in pan before baking. Photo by Felicia Orth

Baked Confit Byaldi. Photo by Felicia Orth

 
Editor’s note: Felicia Orth is a local home cook; she can be reached at orthf@yahoo.com.
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