Food on Fridays: Chicon au Gratin

fofHere at the Food on Fridays carnival, any post even remotely related to food is welcome.We always enjoy recipes and food photography, but this is for non-foodies, as well.You can tell us about the lettuce seeds you’ve chosen for this year’s garden or include a photo of your child’s mud pie. Seriously, this is a very open-minded food carnival.  Oh, and don’t forget to paste the broccoli button at the top of your post—count it as one of your five-a-day!Here’s a Mr. Linky tutorial:

Write up a post, publish, then return here and click on Mr. Linky below. A screen will pop up where you can type in your blog name and paste in the url to your own Food on Fridays post (give us the exact link to your Food on Fridays page, not just the link to your blog).You can also visit other people’s posts by clicking on Mr. Linky and then clicking participants’ names–you should be taken straight to their posts.

Food on Fridays Participants

Food on Fridays with AnnWhen the Belgian Wonder asked for my hand in marriage, my cooking abilities were limited to broiling hot dogs in a toaster oven and baking an occasional batch of chocolate-chip cookies.He, on the other hand, knew how to make a meal! He would brown ground beef and add it to a batch of Kraft macaroni-and-cheese. I mean, compared to me and my toaster-oven hot dogs, he was a regular Wolfgang Puck.So I’ve come a long way.Now that I’ve revealed to you my sordid culinary past, I feel like I ought to redeem myself with some fancy European dish.So I’ll give you Ann-adapted instructions for Chicon au Gratin (Belgian endives with cheese…and ham)This blogger will make you rush to the grocery in search of endives to try every way she suggests. And here’s another recipe for Chicon au Gratin where the instructions are a little different and their photo looks far more delicious than mine. But I never claimed to be a professional. Remember the hot dogs? Anyway, here’s my simple version of:Chicon au GratinBuy as many endives as you think your family will eat. Endives are a little bitter to a sensitive palate, and if you’ve never tasted one, prepare yourself. I could barely choke this down the first time someone served it to me. But it’s grown on me so much that I now get a hankering for it at least once in the winter.Wash the endives, pull off any icky looking leaves, cut off any dirty bottoms, and place in a pot of boiling water (this step is different from the recipe link above–they braised the endives and cooked them differently).chiconboilingCook them until they are very tender, maybe 15 or 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the endive. Meanwhile, prepare a roux (oil or butter and flour) to make a white sauce (or some recipes skip the white sauce and just pour on some cream).My mother-in-law has a trick to make the white sauce slightly more healthy—she ladles some of the cooking water into the roux. That way she doesn’t need to use so much milk and adds a few nutrients from the vegetable.chiconwhitesauceWhen the endives are soft, you have to drain them.chiconforkI poke them with a fork and transfer them tip-down to a drainer.chicondrainingWhen the water has dripped out, line up the endives in a baking dish and wrap a slice of ham around each one. You could use about half the ham I did. I got a little carried away. And I just realized I should apologize for such a Lenten-unfriendly post. You could leave out the ham for a vegetarian version.chiconwrappedTime for the white sauce. Drizzle over the ham-wrapped chicon.chicondrizzleI’m pretty pleased with myself for taking the photo and drizzling at the same time. I’m doing each of those tasks one-handed.chicondrizzlemoreMore sauce.chiconcoatedDon’t hold back. Douse those endives!Next you’ll need some swiss cheese. Hey, look what I found in my freezer:chiconcheeseI still have a lot of cheese from that manager’s special. I froze it for occasions like these.Shred it and spread on top. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.chiconshreddedcheeseThen stick it in the oven to broil for a few minutes.chiconbroilingI didn’t get a good shot of them dished up on a plate for the Belgian Wonder, but I think you can get a pretty good idea of the final results from this broiling scene.So I’ve gone from broiling hot dogs to broiling Belgian endives in béchamel sauce with imported Swiss cheese.I’ve come a long way, baby.

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  • Comments

    1. Backed endives are so yummy!

      If you cook them in lightly sugared water that takes some of the bitterness.

      And you readers MUST NOT underestimate the “drainage”– if you do not drain the cooked endives enough, the sauce will be icky and watery.

      I cook them in the morning and leave them to drip all day for an evening meal (which makes this a perfect “I-have-such-a-busy-afternoon” meal.

    2. I need to make this sometime, it’s not like I don’t have easy access to endives here *L*

    3. Interesting…I have never cooked endives. Great idea for something new on the menu. Nancy

    4. I really just have never brought myself to cook endives. I have used them in salads with orange, and I actually like the bitterness contrasted with the sweetness of the fruit…I think I would need to taste some prepared by someone else first — want to give me some of yours? :)

      They do look good!

    5. I’ve never tried endives. Somehow covering them with all sorts of creamy goodness make them very appealing…

      I actually wrote something about food this week and it can be used in the carnival: Fried Cabbage. I know, it sounds odd, but it’s unbelievably fantastic. You’ll find it in this post: http://shaleesdiner.com/?p=1001.

    6. Andrea: Thanks for the excellent drainage tip (and the sugar water for bitterness, too–I thought there was some Belgian secret to that). It’s nice to hear from an expert!

      Mub: Try it! The endives are soooo expensive here, it’s ridiculous. If you can get them cheap, it could add something different to your repertoire.

      Nancy: See my above note to Mub. They are a little expensive, but different. I do chop them up in salads (similar to Leila’s description) now and then, but it’s a special salad, not everyday.

      Leila: My Belgian sister-in-law makes a salad very much like that using mandarin oranges (canned), and it’s delicious! I think she adds some corn, too.

      Shalee: Fried cabbage–I just saw something on a TV morning show that started with frying something cabbage-like. I’m clicking over to check out yours right now!

    7. Ann, after your posting here, our local paper ran an article. Apparently Chicoree is the plant of the year in Germany!

      Anyway, I checked out encyclopedia of country living and we have decided to try and grow our own!!!

      (It is a winter salad which you need to plant late spring early summer, let it grow until the first frost. Then you trim it to 2 in above the roots, uproot it and put it in the basement where it is cool and dark (we will use the attic): then from the root grows the pale heads of lettuce you have pictured above! How to have your own fresh vitamins and minerals even winter! I am excited.)

      Oh, and once you have had 2-3 crops from the basement roots, then you can take the roots and make “coffee” out of the roots (Have NO idea how, but I have drunk the coffee before, so it is do-able). Thanks for the inspiration!

    8. White sauce AND cheese? You’re speaking my love language, girl!

    9. Just saw your recipe for Chicon au Gratin and used it to double check the recipe I use from memory. Thought I’d pass on a little tip that makes the recipe more child-friendly…use lots of cheese in the sauce! I live in Holland, where this is a popular dish (Belgium is 45 minutes away), so proper au gratin cheese or gruyere is very easy to get, but when I made it for my family in the states, I used cheddar cheese and it tasted great. The kids love the cheese sauce. You just make the white sauce and while it’s piping hot, melt some grated cheese into it. This dish is almost always served with mashed potatoes here, and cheesy sauce is awesome on mashed potatoes!

    10. very good, might of helped to indicate cooking times, but I managed with out ie it looked golden brown, result Yum all round.

    11. With this recipe, you adopted me for good. Thank you. Pierre

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    2. [...] So let it not be said that there’s nothing to eat here.  On the one hand, you have all your French classics – my local supermarket is stuffed to the gills with charcuterie, smelly cheese, delicate pastries and baguettes so fresh they crinkle in your hand when you pick them up.  On the other hand, there are also a local, more rustic cuisine.  It’s here that you find your eel in green sauce, your beef stewed in ale, and your endives in ham and cheese sauce. [...]

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