Sunday, April 25, 2010

Gordon Ramsay's Sicilian Caponata

I will preface this post by saying: "Gordon Ramsay is full of crap."

That said ... Today's entry. A pretty little appetizer said to feed four. Well, maybe four armies.

Tomatoes, celery, eggplant, garlic, onion, green olives, bell pepper, capers, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pine nuts, fresh basil, superfine sugar (or if you live in Cleveland and can't find any, regular sugar), and a big loaf of crusty bread.

By the by, this is a great "clean out your fridge" recipe.

Coarsely chop the onion. Wipe the tears from your eyes.

Chop the celery.

Chop the bell pepper (the recipe did call for red bell pepper, but I can't really tell the difference, can you?)

Finely chop the garlic.

Chop the green olives. Slap you husband's hand as he tries to help himself to a snack from your chopping board.

Toast the pine nuts.

Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for about 1 minute. I put a small "X" on the bottom to help the peels come off.

Rinse the tomatoes in ice cold water and watch the peels just start to fall off. Slice and remove the seeds.

Coarsely chop the tomato flesh.

And finally, chop the eggplant last. Do it quickly -- it changes color fast.

Heat the olive oil and drop in the eggplant, pepper, celery, onion and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Saute for a few minutes.
Meanwhile slice the bread thickly and toast in the broiler.

Add the capers, tomatoes, garlic, olives, sugar, and balsamic vinegar to the pan. Saute until bubbley and the vegetables are soft.

Set aside and let cool.
Meanwhile ... I skillet cooked some spencer steaks in the same pan (without wiping it out).

The steaks carmelized nicely in the little bit of balsamic glaze left behind from the caponata.

Serve the caponato over the warm toasted bread. Sprinkle with chopped basil and the toasted pine nuts.

Very nice.

So, for my opening statement about the dear chef being full of crap?

How long did it take to make this dish? AN HOUR. Seriously. That does not include the cooking time for the steaks. So much for Ramsay's book jacket quote: "Many of the dishes can be prepared and cooked in 15 minutes (none take longer than half an hour)." Bull poop. Cooked in 15 minutes, sure. But not prepped within that time. It took me 30 minutes alone to chop everything. For the tomatoes, I had to bring the water to a boil, cook the tomatoes for a minute or two (which I did while chopping the other veggies), rinse under cool water, get them cool enough to handle and then try to peel off the skins without destroying the tomato flesh, then get all the seeds out, then chop.

Come on, Ramsay. Get real. I know you never have to prep anything yourself, you have all of your sous chefs doing it for you, but real people with real lives don't have sous chefs on call.
The dish itself? Not bad. I won't make it again, though. There was too much eggplant. Not enough olives. Not enough tomato. Not enough garlic. The dish was too wet.
I guess I prefer a nice olive tapenade instead. Something thick and rich. Besides, this recipe really made too much. I have a whole bowl of it left over in the fridge. We'll be eating it for a week.

"Sicilian Caponata ... Done."

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Vincenzo said...

This recipe is completely different from sicilian caponata. Take long time to do it but is a great dish for a hot summer. You make it once, put in fridge, and you eat it cold as a side dish for at least a week. Or hot in a glass can, and you eat it during the winter. Sure not to as a hot garnish for a steak!

Take a look to this recipe:

that's Caponata.. a poem for August dinners in Palermo

cheshmak said...

You can't tell the difference between green and red bell peppers? There's a big sweetness difference between them. Ramsay's recipes are timed on Ramsay's clock, just watch him crank this out of F Word. Upping the knife skill anti will help tremendously. Check out his and Alton Brown's vids on knife knowhow to seriously boost that speed.