Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Courgettes à l'étouffée

By now you have eaten Courgettes raw, roasted, grilled, steamed, barbecued and stuffed.  You have made zucchini cakes and breads and pies and tarts.  You have made chutneys and jams, potted ratatouilles and even fermented a winter's worth of jars.  Still the Courgettes grow!

Courgettes à l'étouffée, literally "smothered courgettes", is an unlikely but brilliant way of cooking the fruit.  The Courgettes are cut into thick rounds, spread over a shallow non-stick pan to which a lid is tightly fitted, and cooked over a medium to high heat.  Once they begin to brown, they are turned, until coloured on both sides while still juicy in the centre.  

The magic of this recipe lies in the fact that - you will have noticed - no fat nor liquid nor extraneous substance is used to cook the Courgette.  It cooks in its own moisture.  These little courgette rounds are in fact essence of Courgette!  The difficulty is that for the full effect you should not remove the lid, except the once to turn them.  You have to trust your judgement.  

Mine are rather blacker than they should perhaps be.  But so delicious - the almost bitter exterior, the still juicy interior.  You can eat these hot or cold.  The temptation is to further smother them - in Oils and Herbs and Garlic, to toss them with Chili and Feta, to add them to Potato Salads. Do this, do all of these - and add salt and pepper, mix them with Rocket and Basil, with Grilled Halloumi, lather on Vinaigrettes, Lemon Zest, add Chickpeas or mix into Couscous.  

But first, before you do so, taste them, eat a few just as they are.

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