aubergines en pistouille, froides

by Heguiberto on August 17, 2009

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simmering homemade court bouillon

simmering homemade court bouillon

I did not know what court bouillon was till we had our Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking inspired dinner party last week. The glamorous party was followed by a viewing of the new movie, Julie & Julia, at our local movieplex. What a terrific evening! Though the movie segment almost was a bust; Chi-Chi and I nearly arrived late because we ended up walking to the wrong theater! I had assumed the movie was being shown at the Metreon but it turned out it was at the place across the street at the new Westfield mall. Chi-Chi and I were having such fun chatting with one another that I did not even bother to check. After a couple of irritable phone calls from Steven, we finally made our way to the right place! I really enjoyed the film, especially the line where Merryl Streep is dining on some tasty-looking French meal at a Parisian restaurant and she exclaims with pure delight, “French people are so lucky! You eat French food every day!” or something like that.

Court bouillon is a simple light stock that does not require long simmering or boiling that’s used for poaching delicate foodstuffs such as fish or vegetables. “Court” means “short” and “bouillon” means “boil.” It only really needs a few ingredients to flavor the water yet it lends a great flavor to the finished dish. Julia Child’s court bouillon is prepared with bay leaf, coriander seeds, pressed fresh garlic, salt and lemon juice. It’s used as a key step in this tremendous eggplant dish from southern France. We picked this particular recipe from Mastering the Art… because it seemed healthy and went well with pommes Anna as well as John’s fish provençal. Taste wise it is completely up our alley. We cook eggplant all the time at home often with similar ingredients. This recipe sort of reminds me of ratatouille or the Macedonian Pindzur we made the other day. In terms of preparing the eggplant, the basic idea is quite like Szechuan eggplant, though the flavors are worlds apart.

peeling eggplant

peeling eggplant

This dish also requires something that Julia names a pistou. Pistou, I think, is roughly a French version of an Italian pesto. I want to believe that the Italians came up with the idea of pesto first and then the French copied it. It sort of makes sense because pistou is from Provence. Provence is a former Roman colony, a province of the Roman Empire. And we all know that the Italians taught the French how to cook and make wine in olden days. Well my logic here might be wrong but all I can say is that pesto or pistou, I can’t get enough of either!

The dish is supposed to be eaten at room temperature; so not really cold as in froides, but rather cool. I heard lots of yummms at the party. Here’s the recipe, adapted from Julia:

Aubergines en Pistouille, Froides

Ingredients:

3 medium sized eggplants
12 ripe Roma tomatoes
2 shallot, minced
1/3 to ½ cup olive oil for entire recipe

For the court bouillon:
3 cups water
1&1/2 tsp kosher salt
6-10 coriander seeds
3 tbs olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 tsp minced fresh thyme *
2 cloves of garlic, mashed into a paste
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tbs)

preparing tomatoes for peeling

preparing tomatoes for peeling

For the pistou:
1/4 bunch of parsley
½ bunch basil
4 cloves of garlic

*I did not have thyme so I used a pinch of herbs de Provence that was available in my pantry

How to:

To prepare eggplant: peel then cut into medium cubes. Sprinkle with salt and toss in colander to macerate for 15 to 20mins. Then rinse to remove excess salt.

To prepare tomatoes: bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Using a sharp knife, slice the top of each tomato off and make a cross cut on bottom. Drop them into the hot water for about two minutes, or till skin curls. Remove from water. Let cool a bit then peel skin off. Cut them in halves, squish seeds and juices out and cut into strips.

Meanwhile, using another pan, boil together court bouillon ingredients then lower heat to medium. Drop half of rinsed eggplant cubes into broth cook for about 7 minutes or till tender but not mushy. Using slotted spoon remove eggplant from pan then repeat process with second batch of eggplant.

simmering prepared tomatoes in reduced court bouillon

simmering prepared tomatoes in reduced court bouillon

Once eggplant has been parboiled, reduce remaining court bouillon down about 1 cup. Sauté eggplant in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Do not let it burn or turn into mush! Transfer eggplant to a platter. In the same pan add minced shallot and sauté till translucent. Transfer shallot to reduced court bouillon then add tomatoes and cook further 10-15 minutes till sauce thickens a bit. Remove form heat.

Next prepare pistou by processing all ingredients in food processor or mashing everything using a mortar and pestle. Fold aromatic pistou into tomato sauce and pour it over eggplant. Adjust salt if necessary. Let the dish cool to room temperature.

Serve as an appetizer with rustic bread or as a side dish. Vive La France!

finished aubergines en pistouille, froides

finished aubergines en pistouille, froides

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Jasmine Turner August 17, 2009 at 10:26 am

OMG, that was so good, it seems so complex though I don’t know if I am confident enough to make it. All those different pans and broths….my goodness! It is really tasty though!

Marlena Albin August 17, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Delicious dish! It really spices up eggplant. I am inspired to make this dish sometime soon…

Deby Wozniak August 17, 2009 at 6:07 pm

I’d love to have someone make this for me, maybe when I stay with them in San Francisco sometime…

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