Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chicon Au Gratin (Endives with ham covered in a thick cheese sauce)

I have been wanting to post about this amazing dish for quite some time now... It's one of my absolutely favorites!!! I was born and raised in Belgium. This dish is a very common and popular one. I actually used this dish as my base recipe in my end of the year thesis (I took culinary arts in high school) we had to make at least three changes to the original recipe to make it our own, and might I add I got an A on my assignment. If you ask my poor family about the changes I made the the original recipe, you wil hear them laugh (especially my dad, he double checks his food now lol)
 I am planning on giving you the original recipe as well as my revised one (don't be too quick to write off the revised version, no matter how weird or bizarre it might sound! :-P...) remember I did get an A and nobody got sick!!!

When I got married, my very american hubby proclaimed that he was "allergic" to flavor. And if I could be so kind as to refrain from making any overly "European dishes" (oh yes he did!)
I had to sneak this one in...and guess what...the booger LOVED it (mind you I wasn't daring enough to try the altered version...and might never be...)

Anyways, without further a due here is my favorite Belgian dish ;-)  (please excuse the bad pictures, they were taken quite awhile ago...)

Grate the cheese and set aside
Boil a pot of water, when boiling place the endives in the boiling water and boil until endives are tender. Set the endives aside and let cool for a couple of hours on some paper towels (see tips for why)
After endives have drained and cooled down, start your bechamel sauce
It should turn out smooth like this 
Take the bechamel sauce off the stove and slowly add the cheese while continually stirring.
Add the nutmeg, pepper and salt and stir well

Roll the endives in a slice of ham and place in slightly greased casserole dish.
Pour the cheese sauce over the rolled endives.

Top with the left over cheese and a dash of pepper

Bake until cheese sauce is bubbly. place the dish on the top rack under the broiler until the cheese on top is bubbling and browning. yummo!!!

I topped off this rich meal with mashed potato balls topped with cheese and parsley and broiled until cheese is  melted and bubbly.

Chicons Au Gratin (Endives with ham covered in a rich cheese sauce)

  • Ingredients

  • 8 heads Belgian endive, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese, divided
  • 2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, or amount to taste
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 slices deli-style ham
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

  1. Lightly grease a baking dish.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Place the endives into the water. Cover, and cook until tender, 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Place the endives on some paper towels and let drain. 
  4. Place the butter into a saucepan, and melt over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and stir until the mixture becomes paste-like and golden brown. Take the saucepan off the heat and gradually whisk the milk into the flour mixture, whisking constantly until thick and smooth. Stir in 3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper until well blended. Cook gently over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Preheat an oven broiler to low.
  6. Wrap each endive with a slice of ham, and place into the prepared baking dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the endives. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Gruyere cheese and parsley.
  7. Cook the endives under preheated broiler until cheese is golden brown and sauce bubbles, about 10 minutes.

OK so here are the tips:

  • After boiling the endives, make sure you let them sit for a good amount of time. you don't want the water that gets caught in the endives to mix with your cheese sauce...ending in a watery mess.
  • I changed the way of cooking the endives for my thesis; I prepared the endives as instructed but instead of boiling them I rubbed them in lemon juice and rolled them ever so slightly in sugar. I melted some butter in a saucepan, placed the endives in it and let the endives brown on all sides (the endives will blacken ever so slightly, that's ok!), then I added about 1/4 cup water to the saucepan. I covered the pan and let the endives steam until tender.
  • I upped the wow factor to this dish by spreading Dijon mustard onto the slices of ham, just a thin layer. 
  • Now for the ultimately crazy part, after spreading the mustard I decided to add a very thin slice of banana to the mustard and ham (I cut the banana lengthwise but made sure the slices were ever so thin!) You are wondering where on earth did I get this idea from??? Well one day, while visiting Gent I stopped at a small quaint little cafe for lunch. On their menu they actually had banana covered in ham and cheese. So after discussing it with a chef I knew, we came up with this concoction (and trust me nobody suspected the banana until I told them...not even my dad lol) roll the ham and banana and endive up and proceed with the regular recipe.
  • I heat my dish up in the over first until bubbly at 350F, before broiling it.
  • I serve this dish with regular mashed potatoes (I add cream cheese to my potatoes for stability) formed into balls (ice cream scoop) and topped with cheese and parsley. And then broiled.
Hope you enjoy this "crazy" meal, love and kisses from our kitchen to your ;-)


1 comment:

  1. Sounds amazing. If I can work out a gluten free recipe for bechamel that isn't an odd texture, I will definitely be trying this soon. :)