Rapid Ratatouille, French Army, 1905
This is the official version of "rata", the ubiquitous French Army stew of World War 1. Unlike the more familiar Niçoise ratatouille of eggplant, tomatoes and peppers, it is a rather simple potato and vegetable stew. It was designed to be prepared rapidly after a march, upon encampment. Prior to the beginning of the march, potatoes were distributed to squad members. Upon arrival at the campsite the first task was to put the water on the fire to boil. While the water was heating up the potatoes were quickly peeled and cut up, as they took the longest to cook. The squad members would then return the peeled and cut potatoes to the squad’s cook.
Yield: 4 servings
US Metric Ingredients
4 oz 120 g salt pork
36 oz 1 kg potatoes
3 oz 80 g fat or lard
3½ oz 100 g carrots
5 oz 140 g onions
1 tsp 2 g pepper
to taste to taste salt
1 each 1 each bouquet garni
Ingredients for Rata Rapide
1. Peel the carrots, onions and potatoes; cut into small pieces.
2. Boil the water, and then add the potatoes, carrots and bouquet garni.
3. In a small frying pan, place the lard and heat until it melts.
4. Add the onion and the salt pork to the lard.
5. Cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently.
6. When the potatoes and carrots are cooked, drain the excess water and add the salt, pepper, cooked onions and salt pork.