Here is a little chicory recipe to illustrate my previous post/ story called Chicory Endeavour ; the pun is in the fact that chicory is also known as “endive”; ok, ok, a bit far fetched maybe? Anyhow, I decided to make this recipe with a cheese we mature at work, called “15 Fields”, a raw milk cheddar from co. Waterford that we age for 6 to 8 months. It works really well in cheesy sauces, or like in this case, a rich Béchamel sauce, perfect for this French classic called “Gratin d’Endives”. It sometimes includes ham, but this time, I decided to leave it out. In pictures, and step by step, this is pretty much how it went… First, you need to gather your key ingredients:
You can start by peeling the outside leaves of the chicories if they are a bit brown. It is a good thing to do anyway, as they can turn a bit bitter. Remove a bit of the stalks and core it gently, like an apple if you wish, but not too deep. Once that’s done, set aside and start making your cheesy béchamel ( aka white sauce). First, a bit of butter and olive oil in a pan…
I did this recipe at work on Friday, for some of our staff and my boss, and since we had just received some Orkney butter from Orkney cows, I decided to use it. As a Breton man, I know my butter and this one I must say was pretty savage! ( That means good by the way). Place a large pot of salted water and bring it to the boil; the chicories need to be blanched for about 10 minutes, but I would recommend running a thin knife through them to make sure it’s not too hard. On a much lower heat, and in another pan, melt the butter and add a handful of flour. Stir well and do not hesitate to take off the heat if it gets too hot!
Once the chicories are cooked, place them on a sieve and cool with cold water; gently now, you don’t want to damage them. Start focusing on the cheesy sauce. Stir the butter and flour well, add a bit of salt. When you get to the texture below, pour some milk, little by little and put back on the heat… Keep stirring and removing if it gets too hot…
I was telling you earlier that we mature a raw milk cheddar called “15 Fields”, made by the Lornegan family, also known as Knockanore; it is famous for their smoked cheddar; Eamon makes a raw milk version for us that we mature on site in Co. Meath. Rich in flavour, it could remind you of a Cantal from Auvergne. Perfect for my cheesy sauce…
Grate about 200g of the cheese in the béchamel, stir well and for an extra touch, a dash of Chardonnay white wine. Put back on the stove, keep stirring. This will bring extra sweetness to the dish. French Chardonnay from Burgundy is insanely expensive now, but producers in Languedoc make some pretty decent stuff. This one has a bit of viognier in it, but didn’t touch wood; an important point.
Oh… And I couldn’t resist that one…
Place your cooled chicories on a baking dish, and pour the sauce over…
Bake the dish at 200c for about 30 minutes; if you want extra drama, you can run it under the grill for a couple of minutes… A bit like this!
All you need to do now is to serve with a good sourdough baguette or bread… Tuck in!
Keep Well and Eat Happy,
12 thoughts on “Chicory Gratin”
Oh, lovely. ‘Witloof in de oven’ is a true taste of my childhood. My grandmother makes hers with ham and I think a Swiss cheeseor Emmenthal, and she steams rather than boils the endive. Yours looks amazing – it’s all about the bitter of the endives against the fatty richness of the cheese for me.
Thank you! And thanks for the word “Witloof”. Yes, Gruyere is probably usually the cheese of choice. I realised that it seems to be a big food memory for a lot of us 🙂
I’m all over it like a piglet on a truffle …. this one is mine, mine, mine because I know I love it and I just needed the reminder to make it. But what cheese shall I choose? Do I go the traditional gruyère route or does sir have other suggestions (currently I am far from my Cantal home so no Cantal and no Salers of quality easily to hand) … I’m over in Grenoble so over to you, my friend 😊
Well, in that case I would recommend a bit of Comté, 14-16 months would be just perfect. Comté or Abondance. I did the recipe at work on Friday ( as you can see, the cooker looks like those in student dwellings 🙂 ). I am so glad I did it again, a warm food memory! Thank you so much l’amie, let me know how you get on! 😉
I will indeed. You can call it Osyth’s revenge because the Two Brained one I live with neither likes cooked cheese nor Endive and I adore both and I’m feeling feisty and it’s cold and bluddy windy and I’m having this for my supper. Comte it is (by the way there is an Irish Shop in Grenoble but I have yet to venture in and see if they have any decent cheeses …. I’m a fussy mare and they will have to be in tip top condition to tempt me!)
Mwa-ha-ha… They don’t like cooked cheese? I would love to know more about that Irish shop! 🙂
It’s clearly a curse from someone I offended long ago. He loves cheese but can’t stand it cooked (except mozzarella which is so mild as to not be more than curdled milk anyway and bizarrely blue cheese). So when I am feeling feckless and feisty I just go ahead and make my own (because life without melted cheese is no life in my opinion) and tell him if he doesn’t like it he can take a walk! I will report on the Irish Shop at some point. I’m planning to do a post a week on Grenoble which I’m loving all the more because I know it’s not forever.
If one was going to be a philistine, where does the ham fit in in this recipe?
The ham is actually rolled around the chicories before baking. Baked or Parma, they would both work. Traditionally cooked ham though… 😉
I’d better do some shopping so… time to pop up to Meath!
Oh my, this looks divine!
Thank you! Yes, a wee blast from the past! 🙂