03 December 2010

Braised endives au gratin

I bought a piece of Gruyère cheese the other day. Usually I buy Comté, a French AOC cheese that is similar to the Swiss Gruyère. Both would be in the category that we in America label as "Swiss" cheeses but which are not made in Switzerland at all.

Both AOC Comté and AOC Gruyère are made with lait cru de vache — raw (unpasteurized) cow's milk. Similar cheeses from the Alps, with slightly different flavors, are Beaufort, Abondance, and Emmental.

The other thing that SuperU was running a special on was Belgian endive — in French, that's endives, in the plural. This is their season, and they are really good au gratin — in a cheese sauce with melted cheese over the top.

Gratin d'endives au jambon

Even if Belgian endive is expensive where you live, this dish is worth the cost. That's especially true on a cold snowy day, when your body needs comforting and your senses need stimulating. Endive has a slightly bitter taste and is good braised in butter with white wine and/or lemon juice to add some sweetness. A few cloves of garlic in the braising liquid don't hurt either. The endives need to cook on low for 60 to 90 minutes, until they're tender.

That gives you plenty of time to grate some cheese. Wait until the endives are nearly cooked so that you can use the endive braising liquid to make the sauce, along with milk and cream. Be sure to add a pinch or a grate of nutmeg to it along with the grated Swiss or cheddar cheese. As I said, I had Gruyère cheese, and Walt and I decided it really does taste different from Comté, though both are excellent.

Braised Belgian endives wrapped in ham slices
and cooked in a cheese sauce

When the endives are tender, put them in a baking dish and spoon some of the cheese sauce over them. Actually, put a spoonful or two of sauce on the bottom of the pan before you put the endives in, so that they won't stick. Sprinkle some grated cheese over the top for good measure, and put the pan in a hot oven for a few minutes until it turns a golden brown.

As an extra touch, you can roll each braised endive up in a slice of jambon de Paris or slices of smoked turkey or chicken before you put them in the pan. Then spoon on the sauce and top it with melted cheese. Now it's a full meal, with meat, vegetables, and cheese.

Here's a post with more pictures and with links to other posts about cooking endives.

Here's a big photo — click the image twice to see full size —
that I took about five minutes ago out the back window.

P.S. It snowed again overnight. I had intended to take the car out yesterday and go to town, but I thought better of it after my walk with the dog. It's just too icy out there. Now I have to decide whether to venture out today, but it snowed again overnight. It's snowing right now, in fact, and it's really coming down. I'm starting to get cabin fever but I still don't feel like going out in it.

Here's a link to the weather map showing the snowy areas — the north coasts of Brittany and Lower Normandy, along with the whole center of the country.


  1. We managed to get out to the supermarket in our one brief sunny spell yesterday. We were careful to take the main road, not the back road we usually take.

    The woman promoting the endives last week complimented me on my French! I didn't buy any endives though :-)

  2. Ken, forget the wine... use a bottle of Orval instead and poach the 'dives in it with a chopped shallot... excellent scran!

  3. The word verification has just come up as "inpat"... an ex-pat who has bothered to try and learn the local language perhaps?

  4. Tim, speaking of local languages, your first comment is pretty much Greek to me. What is Orval? What does "scran" mean?

    Susan, good for the French. You should have bought something LOL!

  5. Okay, I looked up Orval. I'm not much of a beer drinker or cooker. I prefer wine. Still don't know what scran is though.

  6. Orval is a Belgian Trappiste Ale [genuine one brewed by the monks at the Abbeye d'Orval]... the Intermarché has it at a very reasonable 1,45€ a bottle. The brewery is here [http://www.orval.be/an/FS_an.html]

    "Scran" is a Scot's slang word for grub, tucker, food, drink.... etc.

  7. Okay, "scran" = "food" in a dialect of British English. "Good scran" in French is "de la bonne bouffe." Good eats, in other words.

  8. oh goody, more language lessons ;))

    Seriously, that bubbly gratin looks very enticing.



  9. We are also very much into comfort food at the moment, mostly a combination of what's in our freezer and still lurking in our fridge since the last shopping trip a week ago !!

    It's amazing what interesting food you can come up with when needed. We are hoping to get to the shops today as no more snow fell overnight.

  10. That's a bountiful snow! The endive dish looks yummy for sure, but the bread beside it makes me homesick for France.

    Put your boots on and take a walk where you won't fall and enjoy the snow, I think you're getting cabin fever, my friend. This said from a place where snow is rare.

  11. Ken, all your snow made our national news! i thought of you when they made the report. hunker down and keep on cookin'!

    sending warm regards in hopes they might melt the snow.
    ps i cant remember if i told you but the Neufchâtel cheese i made turned out really good. it finally aged enough to form a rind and got some sharpness. thanks for the inspiration!

  12. Ken

    Did the bread lady bring you your 'daily" bread this week? considering the weather

  13. Ohiofg, I'm glad the neufchâtel cheese came out good. Our snow is supposed to melt on Sunday. Meanwhile, they say it will be awful tomorrow: cold rain on all this snow.

    Beav, yes, the porteuse de pain came by as scheduled this week. But today, she said we should take two baguettes because tomorrow's weather looks so bad she doesn't plan to make her rounds.

    Evelyn, that bread is pretty, isn't it? My waterproof boots are getting a workout this week, that's for sure. But all will change over the next 48 hours, if the weather forecasts are right.

  14. Mmmmmmm. I remember your braised endives au gratin. They were every bit as good as they look in your photos. Comfort food is sounding pretty good right now. We're having the California equivalent of snow, AKA rain. And we have all of the same complaints: it makes the roads treacherous, people don't know how to drive in it, etc.

    Hope you're staying warm and dry. We know you're staying well-fed.


  15. I have enough trouble trying NOT to gain any additional weight; how are you managing without getting outside for your daily workout, Ken? On another tack, are you a DIY learner as far as cuisine goes, or have you taken a lot of classes? Obviously, you are very talented in that area, for sure!

  16. Delicious-looking. This is one of my favorite French home dishes but I don't make them very often because the girls don't like endives, and it seems too elaborate for just the two of us. Your photo inspired me though!


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