Friday, 17 April 2009

Flemish Rata : a dish from the coast

Koksijde is a city at the very west of the North sea coast of Belgium. While browsing through my 'Original Flemish Dishes' cookbook I came across this local recipe, which I just had to prepare, it's so unusual.
You need
4 slices of bacon or breakfast bacon , 1 cm thick (the original recipe uses slices of normal bacon 1 cm thick, I used these to cut back on the fat. )

1 kilo of firm cooking potatoes
1 medium onion
25 grams of butter or tablespoon of olive oil
2 bay leaves (laurel),
a sprig of thyme or 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
some pepper
1 liter of freshly brewed coffee

Peel your potatoes and cut the larger ones in half , put in a larger pot.

Pour the coffee over them ( yes, that's right : coffee !) till the potatoes are mostly covered and add two bay leaves and a sprig of thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme) and pepper. Bring to a boil put the lid on and let it cook slowly. The original recipe adds salt here, but since the bacon is already salted, I leave this out.

While the coffee is starting to boil , saute your peeled and diced onion in a pan with the olive oil or butter.

Add the four slices of bacon after a few minutes and bake them on both sides on a medium fire for a few minutes (they don't need to be cooked through! )

Scoop the onion into the coffee and arrange the meat on top of the potatoes.

Close the lid and let it simmer on a low fire till the potatoes are done (prick them with a fork to check if they're done through) : takes 20 minutes or more , depending on how slowly you simmer it.
I've turned two slices over ,: you can see how nicely they've browned on the side touching the coffee.
Serve the potatoes in a deep plate, pour a generous helping of coffee sauce over it and add a slice for each person.

As you can see , the potatoes are colored on the outside, the meat has been steamed to a nice pink : the coffee taste has mostly disappeared, the sauce tastes slightly salty and of meat with hints of thyme and bay leaf.

Oh, and to make the most of the sauce , you just have to mash your potato in it with your fork! Wicked!

I like this dish,I've made it twice already and I'm told it still appears regularly on the dinner table in Koksijde.


kirin said...

Coffee? I first thought the soup was from soy sauce, but, coffee??!! Last time cooking was with beer, which was a surprise to me, but this time is...(@_@)I can't imagine how that tastes, but I'm very much curious!

As I read your blog, Belgium has become one of the countries I have to go and experience its cuisine & beer!!

Priscilla said...

o_O That is.... interesting!! I think I would definitely have to try this recipe!! ^^;; And I thought chocolate was weird to cook with!! Hahaha.

Walter said...

Hi Kirin, Hello Priscilla ,

Thank you so much for commenting.
Cooking with beer is quite common in our country, just like the french cook with wine ( and sake is used in a number of Japanese dishes ).
But this dish is quite unusual, I just had to try it ( twice already) .
I wonder who thought of it the first time ?
If I see any other interesting recipes, I'll certainly give them a try.
You're probably both too young to remember the very first Star Trek series ( they were aired in our country in the early seventies ), but I can't help thinking what Spock would say of this dish :
" It's food, Jim, but not as we know it "

Ahahaha! Do try it and don't make the coffee too strong or too weak.

Priscilla said...

Hi Walter! Just to let you know that I tried this recipe today :D I'll be posting about it on my blog soon. Thanks for the recipe! It turned out great and quite delicious XD

Walter said...

Hello , Priscilla. Great! I'll be looking forward to your blog.