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Gratin d'endives au jambon

We were at the supermarket doing our usual weekly shopping. I paused by the vegetable section trying to figure out what to cook and buy... Finding something that both Pierre and I likes and that is a bit new isn't easy since he doesn't like most of the vegetables and our taste are so different. Suddenly Pierre came by and suggested : 'how about we make gratin d'endives au jambon?' ... I wasn't very enthusiastic about it at first as I don't like anything bitter and endives have a very bitter taste however Pierre assured me that it wasn't that bitter once baked and drowned in sauce. OK, why not?

Endives (Cichorium endivia) was, like so many other things, invented by accident. The technique for growing endives was discovered in the 1830s by a Belgian farmer, Jan Lammers in Schaerbeek, Belgium. Upon returning from war, he found his stored chicory had sprouted white leaves, and that it still tasted OK.

Nowadays the plant is grown underground or indoors away from sunlight, to prevent the leaves from turning green and opening up. As such, it is also often sold wrapped in a protective opaque paper or plastic to protect it from the light. The whiter the leaf, the less bitter the taste; but to make it easy in the mouth it's recommended to cut out the harder inner-part at the bottom before cooking. Today France is the largest producer of endives (yay!).

Rich in vitamins, minerals, especially in folate and vitamin A & K, the endives are also high in fiber. They can be eaten raw as salad (great with dices of blue cheese and walnuts), or cooked in various ways: stuffed, baked, boiled, steamed or fried.

How to choose and store Endives?

Select those that have crisp, firm, tightly pack heads no longer than 15 cm (or 6 inches). Good endives are creamy white with a yellowy green tinge to the leaf edges. To avoid them from turning green and becoming bitter, store them in the refrigerator wrapped in kitchen paper and placed in a plastic bag.

Here's my entry for this week Weekend Herb Blogging host by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once.

Gratin d'endives au jambon
Ingredients
  • 4 endives
  • 4 slices ham
  • grated cheese

Béchamel Sauce

  • 30 g plain flour
  • 30 g butter or margarine
  • ½ litre milk
  • salt, nutmeg & pepper
Endives and ham
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven at 220°C.
  2. Wash the endives and cut off the base. Using a small sharp knife, carve out the middle bitter cone-shaped part at the base of the endives.
  3. Cook them in a steamer for about 8 minutes or in a pot of salted water for about 15 minutes. Then drain them well in a strainer.
  4. Wrap a slice of ham around each endives and lay them on a baking dish.
  5. Pour the béchamel sauce on top of the wrapped endives and sprinkle some grated cheese on top of it.
  6. Bake it for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Béchamel sauce

  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan at medium heat. Make sure that the butter doesn't turn brown.
  2. Add the flour into the melted butter and stir it vigorously with a whisk. Continue to stir vigorously until you obtain a mousse like mixture.
  3. Stir in the milk a little at a time (make sure it's well incorporated), vigorously to avoid getting lumps.
  4. When about half the milk is in, switch to a balloon whisk and start adding large amounts of milk instead, but always whisking briskly. Your reward will be a smooth, glossy, creamy sauce.
  5. Whisk it until it thickens, then turn the heat down to its lowest setting.
  6. Season it with salt, nutmeg and pepper.
  7. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes (whisk it from time to time) and then remove from heat.
Gratin d'endives au jambon
The Verdict

All I can say is that this one is a keeper. I love it - the taste of the ham and endives with béchamel sauce is delicious - salty, creamy ... the endives just melt in my mouth. There was no taste of bitterness at all except at the base - just a tint of bitterness. Even my little daughter loves it, it looks like a great way to get kids to eat some veggies.

Gratin d'endives au jambon, cut
30 comments.
#1, by Fénix (Bostonscapes) (10/04/2007)

I had totally forgotten about this dish! One of the simplest and loveliest meals anyone can make. Oh boy, I just had dinner and before visiting your blog I stopped by Pia's in Sweden to learn that on Oct 4th they celebrate Cinnamon Bun Day (I kid you not!) and she had made a fabulous batch of CBs. I won't make the buns because I don't like baking, but you betcha I'm making gratin d'endives au jambon this weekend.

Have a lovely rest of the week!:-)

#2, by Kelly Mahoney (10/04/2007)

I would not have thought of this presentation or dish, but it looks delicious. Endive is a versatile ingredient.

#3, by Anh (10/04/2007)

A lovely idea indeed! I never think of using endive that way!

#4, by Kevin (10/04/2007)

I have yet to try endives. This dish looks and sounds really tasty. Bookmarking to try.

#5, by Kate (10/04/2007)

Yeah me too , never tried endives...not sure even if i can find some where i live, But this definately looks very appetizing.

#6, by Katie (10/04/2007)

Oh, I love this! And you only had to bake it 20 minutes? Perfect for a first course....

#7, by Sylvia (10/04/2007)

Wow !!Your dish looks fabulous.I made something similar whit endives.Row ham, cheese and heavy cream.Baked endives are so tasty.

#8, by Cynthia (10/04/2007)

I bet those endives are happy in that sauce:-)

#9, by Judy (10/04/2007)

Wow, looks nice. I have not had endives before. I don't know what it tastes like. I suppose the only way to know is to buy a couple and try this recipe.:-)

Thank you for commenting such a lovely story on my blog. I appreciate your sharing.

You must be very fluent in French now. My cousin is back in France from Missouri. I have yet to find out whereabouts is Janze.

#10, by Nora (10/04/2007)

Thanks for the tip on how to choose and store endives. I like raw endives in salads.

#11, by Marichelle (10/05/2007)

I've been looking for some new recipes to try, I've been feeling so uninspired lately in the cooking department... thank you for sharing!

#12, by ireneangele (10/05/2007)

miam, miam... du gratin d'endives au jambon! A shame that this veggie is so rare and expensive in America!

#13, by Coffee & Vanilla (10/05/2007)

Hello,

Answering your question: I have never tried to refrigerate dough for bread. But as Nora said, you can freeze under baked bread and then put in the oven for a while whenever you need fresh bread.

I'm hosting two events this month and I would love you to join:
Vegetarian Awareness Month and Inspiring Food Photography.

#14, by Rosa (10/05/2007)

I'm a big fan of that wonderful dish! Yours looks ever so yummy!

Cheers,

Rosa

#15, by Sara (10/06/2007)

This looks so good - I've wanted to try endive but never knew what to do with it. I'm going to save this to try, thanks!

#16, by Kalyn (10/07/2007)

Very creative, and it sounds very delicious too. Endive is so expensive here that I think I've only eaten it a few times.

#17, by Anna (10/08/2007)

yum! what would you recommend to replace the ham for a vegetarian version? i was thinking some smokey chipotle chillies but that might be a bit overpowering - what do you think?

#18, by The Cooking Ninja (10/10/2007)

@Fénix: How did your gratin d'endives au jambon turned out? Do you like it?

@Kelly: Yeah it is. My MIL loves endives.:-)

@Anh & Kate: I never had endives till I live in France and would have never eaten it this way till my other half suggested it.:-)

@Kevin: Hope you like it.

@Katie: Oh yeah ... I love easy and quick to do meals:-)

@Sylvia: Same opinion as you:-) I have just come to discover it.

@Cythnia: yes they were and so were we eating them. hehehe

@Judy: Unfortunately I can't say that I can speak like a French but I can speak to save my life ... hehehe with a Singaporean accent.:-p

@Nora: ooh...you are brave. I couldn't take the bitter taste of it raw.

@Marichelle: Welcome to my blog:-)

@ireneangele: How sad.:-(

@Coffee and Vanilla: Will try to see if I can make it.

@Rosa: Thanks for dropping by.:-)

@Sara: I know what you mean. If not for my MIL and my significant other, I would have never gotten to try them out.

@Kalyn: Over here, it's abundantly available here.

@Anna: I have been thinking about your question and I still couldn't come up with something replace the ham. I'm sorry:-( I will ask my MIL for ideas the next time I speak to her. I never had smokey chipotle chilis before so I don't know how it would turn out with the endives.:-(

#19, by Andy (10/18/2007)

ooo wow this looks so good and so simple! My wife is drooling over it so I think this dish is in my future.;-)

#20, by Hui Nih (05/30/2008)

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for sharing these wonderful recipes! Although we are now living in Netherlands,my hubby was brought up in France, and therefore he missed French food so much. I have just tried this recipe on Endives, he simply love it! So easy and delicious, thanks again:-)

p/s: I have placed your link at my site, hopefully others would pay you a visit too!

#21, by Hui Nih (05/30/2008)

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for sharing these wonderful recipes! Although we are now living in Netherlands,my hubby was brought up in France, and therefore he missed French food so much. I have just tried this recipe on Endives, he simply love it! So easy and delicious, thanks again:-)

p/s: I have placed your link at my site, hopefully others would pay you a visit too!

#22, by Ann a Birna (11/03/2008)

I will definitely try this simple, yet interesting recipe. What I was so surprised to see is that you have the same butter from Bretagne on your table. I am from Iceland but residing in Rennes for 4 months and trying out all sorts of new cooking.

#23, by Leah Klein (01/28/2009)

Thanks for the recipe. I really like cooked endives and I recently had the perfect cheese to use for this recipe.

I just wanted to let you know that I linked your recipe to my article.

Thanks.

Leah Klein
Boston Family Foodie
http://www.examiner.com/x-1240-Boston-Family-Foodie-Examiner

#24, by Suzy Oakes (02/20/2009)

Would you mind if I linked to this great article (in fact I think I might make it this weekend ....) from my entry for "Endives au jambon" on http://www.whatamieating.com? It would be great to be able to do this.

#25, by The Cooking Ninja (02/21/2009)

@Suzy Oakes: Sure, no problem with that.:-) I also have an article on Wild Mushrooms Pie that you might be interested in.

#26, by Muriel (08/29/2009)

Hello from Scotland.

You could use a slice of skinned red pepper. Rather than try to wrap the endive completely just lay a half peper over each endive before adding the sauce.

I at this a lot in Lyon and am making it again this week-end as a starter. Salad was also mentioned - chopped endive with cubes of gruyere, lightly chopped walnuts and a mustardy vinigrette makes a lovely salad. This a super starter with crusty bread to mop up the juices.

#27, by The Cooking Ninja (08/30/2009)

@Muriel: Interesting - never thought of doing it with red pepper. Yes we often made endive salads with gruyere n chopped walnuts with French vinaigrette at home. It's delicious.

#28, by Susie (02/25/2010)

For a veggie version you could always add smoked cheese...

#29, by Gretchen Meyerhoff (11/21/2010)

Hello from an American (with a French husband) in Grenoble!
I have this in the oven right now, but I made it with parma ham because we had some left over. It's the first time I've made endives au jambon!

#30, by Gretchen (11/21/2010)

Hello from an American (with a French husband) in Grenoble!
I have this in the oven right now, but I made it with parma ham because we had some left over. It's the first time I've made endives au jambon!