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Chicory Gratin

by , featured in Bitter
Published by Square Peg
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Introduction

This is a delicious, warming dish that hails from Belgium (and Northern France): bitter chicory are braised, wrapped in salty ham, smothered in a mustard-spiked béchamel sauce and showered in umami-rich grated Gruyère. I am indebted to MasterChef winner Eddie Scott for alerting me to the beauty of braising the chicory in beer — something that obviously suits the theme of this book. This dish is delicious as a meal in its own right, served with a green salad, but it also works well as a side to meat.

If you’d rather keep this dish meat-free, you can easily leave out the ham, bearing in mind that the bitterness of the chicory will come through a little stronger.

This is a delicious, warming dish that hails from Belgium (and Northern France): bitter chicory are braised, wrapped in salty ham, smothered in a mustard-spiked béchamel sauce and showered in umami-rich grated Gruyère. I am indebted to MasterChef winner Eddie Scott for alerting me to the beauty of braising the chicory in beer — something that obviously suits the theme of this book. This dish is delicious as a meal in its own right, served with a green salad, but it also works well as a side to meat.

If you’d rather keep this dish meat-free, you can easily leave out the ham, bearing in mind that the bitterness of the chicory will come through a little stronger.

Image of Alexina Anatole's Chicory Gratin
Photo by Yuki Sugiura

Ingredients

Serves: 3-4

Metric Cups
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 - 5 chicory (cut in half lengthways)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 125 millilitres light beer or larger

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 50 grams butter
  • 50 grams plain flour
  • 400 millilitres full fat milk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (grated)
  • freshly ground black pepper

TO ASSEMBLE

  • 8 - 10 slices of French ham (optional)
  • 100 grams Gruyere cheese (grated)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1lb 2 ounces chicory (cut in half lengthways)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup light lager or larger

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 2 ounces butter
  • scant ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • generous 1½ cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg (grated)
  • freshly ground black pepper

TO ASSEMBLE

  • 8 - 10 slices of French ham (optional)
  • 3½ ounces Gruyere cheese (grated)

Method

Chicory Gratin is a guest recipe by Alexina Anatole so we are not able to answer questions regarding this recipe

  1. Place a large frying pan (skillet) that has a lid over a high heat and add the butter along with the chicory halves, cut-sides down. Cook for around 5 minutes until the chicory have caramelised underneath, then flip them over, sprinkle with the salt and add the beer (it should foam). Cover the pan, turn the heat down a notch or two and allow the chicory to braise until softened, around 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220°C fan/240°C/475°F/gas 9.
  3. Meanwhile, make your béchamel. Melt the butter in a medium to large saucepan over a medium heat, then whisk in the flour, cooking it out for a couple of minutes. Gradually add the milk a little at a time, whisking as you go to ensure a smooth sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer and allow to cook for another 2–3 minutes, then season with the mustard, salt, nutmeg and black pepper.
  4. When the chicory have braised, use tongs to remove them to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb some of the excess liquid. Whisk the remaining braising liquid into the béchamel sauce.
  5. To assemble the gratin, wrap each chicory half in a slice of ham and place in the baking dish alongside each other. Pour the béchamel sauce over the top, ensuring everything is covered, then sprinkle over the grated cheese. Bake for around 10–15 minutes until the top of the gratin is nicely golden. Leave to cool for 5–15 minutes before tucking in.
  1. Place a large frying pan (skillet) that has a lid over a high heat and add the butter along with the chicory halves, cut-sides down. Cook for around 5 minutes until the chicory have caramelised underneath, then flip them over, sprinkle with the salt and add the lager (it should foam). Cover the pan, turn the heat down a notch or two and allow the chicory to braise until softened, around 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220°C fan/240°C/475°F/gas 9.
  3. Meanwhile, make your béchamel. Melt the butter in a medium to large saucepan over a medium heat, then whisk in the flour, cooking it out for a couple of minutes. Gradually add the milk a little at a time, whisking as you go to ensure a smooth sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer and allow to cook for another 2–3 minutes, then season with the mustard, salt, nutmeg and black pepper.
  4. When the chicory have braised, use tongs to remove them to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb some of the excess liquid. Whisk the remaining braising liquid into the béchamel sauce.
  5. To assemble the gratin, wrap each chicory half in a slice of ham and place in the baking dish alongside each other. Pour the béchamel sauce over the top, ensuring everything is covered, then sprinkle over the grated cheese. Bake for around 10–15 minutes until the top of the gratin is nicely golden. Leave to cool for 5–15 minutes before tucking in.

Additional Information

TIP
When making a béchamel, or any sauce that involves flour, it is essential to cook the flour out properly, otherwise you’ll be able to taste it in the final sauce.

TIP
When making a béchamel, or any sauce that involves flour, it is essential to cook the flour out properly, otherwise you’ll be able to taste it in the final sauce.

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