14 February 2007

Endives aux lardons

We haven't cooked and eaten many Belgian endives this year, even though winter is the season for them. I bought some at Intermarché last weekend and remembered that I had them in the refrigerator day before yesterday. We needed something for lunch.

To prepare endives for cooking, rinse them off and remove any outer leaves that are wilted or damaged. They say you shouldn't let endives soak in water because it will make them bitter, so just rinse them quickly. They are always clean inside, in my experience.

You can cook the endives whole or you can split them in half lengthwise, as I decided to do this time. Then put some olive oil or butter in a big pan and put the endives in. Put them face down if you cut them. Let them cook in the oil or butter long enough to start taking on some color. They will turn a kind of golden brown.

Turn them and brown them on all around if you want. The golden brown color is caramelization and will give the endives good flavor.

I cooked four fat endives. I could have fit eight in the pan if I hadn't cut them in half. They cook a little faster cut than whole.

Add a couple of whole garlic cloves to the pan if you want. Or, separately, lightly sauté an onion and scatter the pieces over the top of the browning endives endives.

Then pour into the pan about half a cup of white wine and the juice of one lemon. The wine is optional; the lemon juice is not. You could use vinegar in the place of lemon juice. And add salt and pepper to taste.

Belgian endives braised with lemon juice, onion, and lardons

For the endives as pictured, I decided to add some sautéed lardons to the pan for flavor. We were planning to eat this as a main dish, not as a side to go with any other meat.

Let the endives simmer for 45 to 60 minutes. Test them with a skewer to see if they are done. They should be well cooked for best texture and flavor.

Here's another idea for cooking endives as a side dish with fish fillets.

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