(Baked Chicory with Ham and Gruyère)
This is a traditional French recipe, very homey and old fashioned, and perfect for a simple
winter supper. Choose endives that are similar in size to ensure even cooking. I like to roast
them on their own first, to make sure they cook thoroughly but also to wilt and caramelize
the tips the leaves, which improves the taste immensely. Serve with crusty bread and a
rustic wine. You will need a baking dish.
6 large chicory/Belgian endive, about 90 g each
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
12 slices ordinary ham
100 g Gruyère cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
Butter, for greasing the baking dish
For the béchamel
50 g unsalted butter
40 g plain flour
600 ml hot milk
1/2 tsp fine salt
Pinch of grated nutmeg
50 g Gruyère cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Generously butter a 33 x 21 cm baking dish.
Halve the chicory lengthways. Drizzle over the oil then rub all over with your hands to coat evenly. Arrange in a single layer on the baking tray. Sprinkle lightly with salt and about 4 tbsp water. Roast until just tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, prepare the béchamel. Melt the butter in a havey-based saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minutes. Switch to a whisk and pour in the hot milk gradually, whisking constantly until it’s all added. Keep whisking, gently, until the sauce begins to thicken, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the salt, nutmeg and 50 g of the cheese.
When the chicory are cool enough to handle, wrap each half in a slice of ham and arrange, side-by-side, in the prepared dish. Pour over the bechamel, spreading to coat evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over all and bake until browned and bubbling, 20-30 minutes. Serve hot.