04 January 2016

Gratin d'endives au jambon

I really ought to throw up my hands and just take a day off. With the steady rain we had all day yesterday, there was no way to go outside and take any photos.I walked the dog in the rain in the morning, and Walt walked the dog in the rain toward evening. We just took turns getting wet. I don't have much to blog about besides food. Then again, yesterday's lunch was a classic.


I had three Belgian endives in the fridge. I bought them to eat as salad, but I also bought a head of romaine that looked appetizing and we ate that instead. And we've had so much other food lately — I don't know about you, but the holidays just flew by, even though we weren't busy, and we enjoyed all the food we made and ate — that the endives almost got lost in the shuffle. (You'll notice I also had a few cooked Brussels sprouts left over, so I tossed them in too.)


Endives wrapped in ham and then baked in a cheese sauce (sauce mornay) are a standard in Belgium and France, and there's nothing much better for a hot lunch on a cold, rainy day. First you cook the endives in butter and lemon juice, with garlic. That takes about an hour on low heat. Brown them in the butter before adding the lemon juice. Do them ahead of time if you want.


Then you wrap each endive in a slice of nice ham, or even sliced chicken or turkey breast sold as cold cuts. I used ham. And you make a sauce béchamel and add a lot of cheese in it. Add in the lemon-garlic cooking liquid from the endives too, for more flavor. Pour the cheese sauce over the wrapped endives in a baking dish and set the dish in a hot oven. If the endives and cheese sauce are hot when they go into the oven, it won't take long. Just long enough to brown the casserole, or gratin, on top a little. Don't burn your tongue when you eat it. There's a full recipe here, in two blog posts.

30 comments:

  1. I love your cooking blog posts! Still, I hope you do have some sunshine soon.
    And I do wish the price of endive would go down. I learned to like them when I lived in Germany and they were relatively inexpensive.

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    1. I'm trying to imagine what vegetable you could substitute for endives. Packets of green beans or celery stalks cooked in the same butter, lemon juice, and garlic mixture. I'm wondering about doing collard or cabbage leaves the same way. Or asparagus, for sure.

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    2. Not so sure about the green beans, but the celery stalks and leeks definitely work! I also put some freshly grated nutmeg with the endives while they are simmering in the butter (an old trick of my grandmother's who grew up on a farm located in what is considered the 'birth place of Belgian endives'. Try to avoid endives grown in buckets filled with water, if you can, and go for the real thing 'chicons pleine terre' They are the best!!! Martine

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    3. Thanks Martine. I always put a pinch of nutmeg in cheese sauces and fondues. Nutmeg complements the flavor of melted cheeses like Comté or Gruyère.

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    4. I like this idea of leeks with or without celery stalks! Thanks!

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    5. Saw this post earlier this morning and it prompted me to make for dinner tonight as it has been some time since I made this. Supermarket had no endives (or chicory as they are called here in the UK) so decided to use some leeks languishing in the fridge. Just seen now somebody else has already had the idea to use leeks! Steamed them for a few minutes and then wrapped in porchetta. Added some breadcrumbs on top to finish it off and was well received (with enough to warm up tomorrow!)
      Keep up the good work with the site.

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  2. "First you cook the endives"....
    that's where I've been going wrong...
    the recipe I originally used....
    from a Belgian cookbook written for the American market....
    doesn't mention pre-cooking them.
    And it also says use dried ham... the Alsace sort...
    which ends up cooked, but awful stringy...
    our butcher does lovely ham like you show here...
    and I'll get some and some endives in about an hour!
    This, as you wrote, will make a nice change!

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  3. I'm glad you didn't throw your hands up. I didn't know endives could be prepared this way. I almost always learn something interesting on this blog.

    -craig-

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    1. Thanks for the nice comment, craig. Happy New Year to you.

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  4. What, we don't love your food posts? :)
    I've probably mentioned this before, but I was inspired by this recipe (that I've seen you post about before, and it looks so good every time), to come up with something vaguely similar (well... it has a vegetable, wrapped in ham, with a sauce, and that's where it ends). I steam asparagus, pan-fry (quickly) some ham, wrap the asparagus with it, and cover nicely with hollandaise.... served over toast. Really, really good, and very fast.

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    1. That sounds really delicious,Judy. I've made hollandaise before, but I'm not confident about it. Walt and I both love asparagus.

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  5. So I can do this without the ham, right ? Just the sound of "lemon garlic cooking " makes me want some .. now ... for breakfast lol

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    1. Sure, the ham is optional. But maybe some chicken?

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    2. Or better yet, I will let you cook it and I won't worry about what's in it ! yeah, that's the ticket ~

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    3. I've been making these endives since at least the mid-90s and maybe long before that. I wish I could remember where I got the idea or recipe. It might have been inspired by Julia Child, or maybe by somebody in France. Can't remember.

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    4. Smoked gouda :) no chicken or ham . .

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    5. smoked Gouda! Surely better than the tofu I was thinking about! Though I have some smoked tofu in the fridge. My son is a vegetarian.

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  6. I have made this before but didn't pre-cook the endives either.....why is that necessary? Does the pre-cooking make them sweeter? (aside from imparting the garlic/butter) It seems they would be really mushy after an hour of pre-cooking?

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    1. No, the endives are not mushy at all, even after all the cooking. The lemon juice -- and I added some zest this time -- does sweeten up the endives. I can't imagine not pre-cooking them, this way or by parboiling them and then sautéing them in butter to brown them. All that gives them great flavor.

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    2. I can't remember or figure out where it was that I got my recipe for these endives. Itls not in any of the books I normally turn to for ideas and methods. Maybe a friend or acquaintance showed it to me.

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    3. Melinda, in their book Cooking at Home, Julia Child and Jacques Pépin write about braising Belgian endives:

      "...put them in a casserole with a little water, a little lemon juice, and a lot of butter, and braise them slowly, covered, for 1½ to 2 hours."

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  7. We had this last night....
    But everyone else had been reading your blog!
    There were only two large endives left in the box....so I bought those and two slices of ham.
    My intention was to have them with something else...
    Pauline suggested boudin blanc....
    but when I'd made the roux and ended up....
    as per normal.... with gallons of sauce...
    I decided to do them in the same dish.
    Thusly, I grilled said sossijis... there were three....
    and alternated them in the dish....'twas vunderbar!
    Had them with a chunk of fresh 'pain'.....
    Merci!

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    1. Still got sauce left... Pasta bake tonite!!

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    2. That sounds really good, Tim. Enjoy the pasta bake.

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  8. We're having a very wet El Nino winter in San Francisco, (thank god, with the draught) which has followed a bitterly cold December. Our dog, too, quails at the sight of the pouring rain!

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