The French Retreat part six. Two old bags and Herb Stuffed Trout with Ratatouille.

Herbed Stuffed Trout with Ratatouille (11 of 11)I am a modest chap. I don’t like drawing attention to myself. I am also not the tallest person in the room, unless I’m in there on my own. Over the years, I have grown accustomed to having barmen serve the guy behind me and being left until last when it comes to fighting for attention in the Autumn sales. I tend to not do much of either pinting or sale shopping these days so there is no real loss, except to my dignity. But, there is a limit….

While following the queuing rule at the market fish stall in St Foy le Grande, two robustly proportioned female ‘locals’ pushed their way in front of me, blabbering in french and being very rude. One remarking “Ces deux truites serait bien pour le dîner.” Normally, this would not bother me. But, holiday or no holiday, there were only two trout left and I had already set my heart on Herb Stuffed Trout with Ratatouille for our evening meal. So, forcefully, but mannerly, I retook my rightful place in the queue. “Ahhhh. Touristes!” remarked one of the old bags (as they now were in my estimation.) One benefit of being a ‘Touriste’ is that one can pretend to not understand. Just in time, I caught the eye of the stall-holder and requested “Les deux truites, si vous plait.” This did upset the ladies, who expleted something unintelligible in my direction. But, I thought, they could do with a bit of upsetting.

We escaped the market with our haul of trout and vegetables and repaired to the safety of our gite.

A comprehensive ingredients photo including the disputed trout.

A comprehensive ingredients photo including the disputed trout.

The haul included everything we needed.

The list is as follows:

  • 2 very fresh trout
  • 4 onions
  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 courgettes
  • 4 big beef tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 handful of thyme
  • 1 handful of rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • A glass of robust red wine

Preparing the ratatouille involves a good deal of chopping. It gave me the opportunity to vent my anger over the rude French women.

Side note on rude French women: Having made dozens or trips to France over the years, I have met very few rude French women (or men). They are not a nation of wonderful people but, like the rest of us, if you treat them with respect, most of them will reciprocate.

First chop the courgettes and aubergine. Sprinkle with salt (to extract some of the moisture. This prevents you having a soggy ratatouille. Then dissect the onions into reasonably large pieces. Simmer these off in some olive oil while you chop the remaining vegetables. Do the garlic and add it to the onions when they have begun to soften.

The wonderful tomatoes go in as soon a the onions and garlic have softened.

The wonderful tomatoes go in as soon a the onions and garlic have softened.

Slice and de-seed the tomatoes, skinning them if you want to. I didn’t bother with this dish. Add them to the onions. Pat the excess water from the courgette and aubergine. Add them to the pan.

The yellow and green courgettes and the aubergine go in next.

The yellow and green courgettes and the aubergine go in next.

Add a glass of wine.

The obligatory pouring shot. Not my best, I'll admit. I blame the old bags for upsetting me.

The obligatory pouring shot. Not my best, I’ll admit. I blame the old bags for upsetting me.

Season the big pile of vegetables with salt and pepper.

A pretty full saucepan. Full of fantastic flavours!

A pretty full saucepan. Full of fantastic flavours!

Simmer this for a good half hour to concentrate the flavours and reduce the liquids. It will end up looking something like this next photo.

"That looks good enough to eat" I hear you cry. You are not wrong.

“That looks good enough to eat” I hear you cry. You are not wrong.

While all this is going on, get the barbecue lit. Stuff the trout with the herbs. Wipe the fish with olive oil (to prevent sticking).

Stuffed with two herbs and ready for the grill. They need very little else.

Stuffed with two herbs and ready for the grill. They need very little else.

Place the trout in a grill basket and barbecue over a high heat.

A charcoal barbecue adds great flavour. Even though they are a devil to keep clean.

A charcoal barbecue adds great flavour. Even though they are a devil to keep clean.

Spoon lots of the ratatouille on to warmed plates and serve the fish on top.

Well worth the abuse from the two old bags.

Well worth the abuse from the two old bags.

The trout was delicious served with only a huge pile of ratatouille and a glass of shockingly inexpensive rosé wine. It was worth the shoving and abuse in the market to bring this to you. I hope you get the opportunity to cook something similar.

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Latest comments
  • No herbs in the ratatouille? Must have been good veggies. Mind you, I don’t normally stick the vino in. I’m not a big trout fan, but the final photo is a delight.

    • Thanks Adam. The trout were herb stuffed and the veg were fantastically fresh. Wonderful.

  • Or Two Old Trouts and Two Spanking Fresh Ones … the latter well worth sharpening your elbows for, I think. They look delicious.

    • Thanks Linda. I really should edit the title of the post.

  • Unfortunately you never know when you will run into an old bag…glad you were the pushy tourist. 😀 Your trout served with the fresh ratatouille sounds terrific.

    • Thanks Karen. We had it as the sun was going down following a very warm day. It was idilic.

  • Easy and tasty I will bet! When I was in France, I found as long as I did something to try to communicate, which I did with a smattering of French, German and Spanish, one could see that they appreciated the fact that I was at least trying! Everyone I met was friendly and interested. When I read the title of your post, I was thinking two old fabric bags that you might have found at your gite. I was hoping you would do a shot of the fish at the fish market because the array is truly amazing! Best to you and yours, and be well! ^..^

    • Thanks Barb. Our experience of those fine people of France has been almost entirely positive over numerous trips. Strange how this one got in the way of a 100% record. Anyway, the fish was fantastic and worth asserting my rights to get it.

      • Were the bones easy to remove from the fish?

        • No problem at all. The meat just lifted off the bones.

          • Good to know. Now if I can only get my husband to eat this fish I would be happy! 🙂 Be well and my best to you and yours! 🙂

  • That’s a hell of a Rattie there fella – Koo Dohz!

    • Thanks Rory. Since we cooked it and told our youngest daughter about it, she has ben making pots of it here in Ireland and living off it. It is that good!

      • I don’t blame her, I was introduced to this as a 5 year old and I ain’t looked back since Conor!

  • Oh, I wish I could make barbecue here too; its so hot now.. Love fish, especially salmon or trout. Never tried it stuffed with ratatouille, will be waiting for a good weather to try it out! Thanks for sharing!
    Cheers, Mila

    • Thanks Mila, and thanks for visiting. I look forward to seeing you here again soon.

  • I love whole grilled fish. Trout is among my favorites. I’ll eat it in all of its forms. What a great recipe and a great way to use fresh veggies. I just finished reading David Lebovitz’s “My Sweet LIfe in Paris” and he talks about the French way of cutting in line and how he kind of had to learn how to cut and push because it’s more of a norm than not. So funny. It really seems like you got the full experience. 🙂

    • Thankfully, it does seem to be more of a Paris thing than a ‘French’ thing. In general, I find the French to be as nice and respectful as most other nations. Except when it comes to the last two fish on the stall!

  • Conor, this looks fabulous–and in a gîte! Trout and ratatouille, lovely. You know, I don’t think of the French as rude–I do think of Parisians as formal, at least initially–and the vendors in markets are usually very good-humored, especially if you speak a bit of the language. But, I also have to say that they are notorious line-jumpers, using the same technique that New York jaywalkers employ with drivers, to wit: if you don’t make eye contact, no foul. By the same token, everyone feels free to remark loudly on other presumably boorish behavior. Good for you. Ken

    • Thanks Ken. I suppose, as long as everybody knows the rules of the game… It was well worth standing up for my rights with these two trout.

  • Great looking trout and I like the combination with ratatouille. Good job on serving the trout whole (i.e. not with half of it still sticking to the grilling basket). I prefer my ratatouille cooked until it’s soft, but that’s a matter of personal preference. The ratatouille and trout will taste a whole lot better just because the produce is better there. Worth standing up to those old bags for!

    • Thanks Stefan. I think brushing the trout with olive oil made the difference there. That and being extremely careful in opening the basket.

  • Funny. A rude French woman butted in front of Stephane when we were trying to buy duck liver. I pointed this out to him, as both my daughter and I noticed this, and just shrugged his shoulders and said, “They’re Parisians.” Great recipe, as always.

    • Thanks Mimi, I can see him brushing this off in such a way. It would not get to him the way I let it get to me.

  • I personally lovin my ratatouille a little bit more charred and really2 soft,
    Serving whole troult is something i really wanted too, but i think since the trimmed fillet and the whole trout price tag is the same here in Indonesia, i stick with the fillet #weirdfact

    • Weird fact all right Dedy. Though, you get extra flavour into the fish by cooking it whole. Do try it. I think it would really suit your big and bold photographic style too.

  • Very nice my friend. I love a man who isn’t afraid to stoke the fire a little when the moment calls for it 🙂

  • Go Conor go! I speak the language fluently but trust me it doesn’t help much, Parisians are unique. Beautiful dish i feel like having some mmmm

  • That looks amazing and I wish you had a restaurant so I could come eat your food when I come to visit in December. Do you have any recommendations for a tourist who doesn’t want to seem like a tourist?

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