Witlof, literally “white leaf”, is also known as Belgium Endive, until last week I had never had this vegetable, endives can be cooked or used raw in salads. After looking this vegetable up I have found that endives are rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially in folate also known as folic acid and vitamins A and K, and are high in fiber. Endive is also a common name for some types of chicory.
Last week I was having a blah week, and my darling husband sent me a text telling me not to worry about cooking that night. A nice surprise; I came home and had a bit of relaxation and quiet, while he prepared this meal. I loved it, and instantly wanted to recreate my own version of it. As I am in the kitchen cooking I hear him telling me not to forget this or that (like I am new to this lol) I told him I am not cooking his recipe but my own version. I wanted to add a lot more flavor to this really wonderful dish.
I love that Stephan cooked for me, and that he introduced me to such a wonderful meal. I find it irresistible to try new things and this was a real treat. Apparently his sister cooks this and he was really craving it. Well now I know he can cook better than just hot dogs, so he may be in for more of the cooking around here =) Ok OK Maybe not!
On with the meal!
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
8 large yellow Belgian endive, trimmed
8 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest ham
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (I add flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it is completely absorbed)
2/3 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded (1 2/3 cups)
To cook the endive, combine the butter, sugar, salt, and 10 1/2 cups water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Add the endive, cover, and cook until very tender, about 30 minutes.
A knife should be able to pierce through with no resistance. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the endive to paper towels.
Reserve cooking liquid. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the endive. You can do this by rolling them in a paper towel then over the pot of water put the top of the endive facing down and squeeze from the top down.
Wrap each endive with slices of ham. Arrange the endive in a shallow baking dish.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until golden.
Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture smells nutty, about 2 minutes.
Continue whisking and add the milk, then the reserved endive cooking liquid in a slow, steady stream. Continue adding either milk or endive water until it is the texture of a thick cream.
Bring the mixture to a boil while whisking. Continue whisking until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg and pepper.
Pour the béchamel over the endive and spread to cover them evenly. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top.
bake until bubbly and golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. If you want the top more browned and crusty, broil for a minute or two after baking. Serve hot.
I hope you enjoy this classic French meal, it is home cooking at it’s best!