|This lid is much more photogenic than the food itself.|
A friend who saw this online assumed I was smoking something else.
Nope -- just the vegetables!
I have written about the importance of ratatouille in my 2011 Ratatatatouille post (as if the word itself were not difficult enough to spell), which links to the only recipe I have used for it -- Weapons-grade Ratatouille.
I saw the first eggplant of summer at the farmers market last week, and even though tomatoes are still on the pricey side (the price will plummet at the end of the season), they are fresh, ripe, and local, so we bought a ton of them, and let them get even a bit riper as we waited for a good ratatouille-making day.
Which was yesterday. The recipe calls for hours of stove-top simmering plus a bit of oven roasting. This has always been a bit of a problem for ratatouille, since the best season for getting the vegetables is the worst season for heating up the kitchen.
This year we were lucky: Big Green Egg to the rescue! It allowed me to do the roasting outside, although the roasting pan wreaked a bit of havoc with the temperature control for which the Egg is most famous. I was caught off-guard, because I used the same baking sheet to roast these vegetables that I had used to smoke apples just a few days ago, and I had not had any problems with the apples.
The difference seems to have been with the temperature I was trying to maintain. For the apples, I was able to maintain the egg at 325 for over an hour, even though the pan was blocking most of the internal airflow. For the vegetables, I had gotten the egg to 500, but when I put the vegetables in, the temperature dropped to about 310 and would not go back up. I thought maybe the potatoes I was baking were part of the problem, but apparently they were not, and there actually was no problem. The vegetables seemed to be roasting just fine -- getting crisper than they should have at 310 -- and when I removed the pan, the temperature immediately went to 450. In other words, the temperature in the bottom half of the Egg had been just fine. Once I removed the pan, the Egg was back to normal, and worked very well for the local, coffee-rubbed steak I made for dinner!
As for the ratatouille, we finished simmering it, mixed the vegetables in, and put it in the fridge, so we are having it cold-only; the perfect summer lunch!