Grey, rainy, dark February days begs for comfort food, and one of those ultimate Belgian classics is chicon gratin. Belgian endive or chicon ( witloof) is rolled with ham slices and topped with cheesy béchamel, DEVINE!
As part of a series of Belgian dishes posted every first Wednesday of the month, I vow to demystify these uber Belgian classics for you. Step-by-step I will show you what to do, this will have you successfully recreate those gorgeous rustic Belgian flavours you discovered In Belgium.
CHICON – Belgian endive or chicory is a perennial plant from the dandelion family with light blue little flowers. The roots are harvested and buried in the soil in a dark shed. This will stimulate a bud to form and grow the white Belgian endive we know and love. The slightly bitter leaves can be eaten raw in a salad, blanched and braised.
The secret ingredient ( well not soo secret really) is freshly grated nutmeg.
I serve it with boiled potatoes and extra cheese to soak up the béchamel or you can serve it with mash potatoes.
- It is important to drain well the chicon and pat them dry. Otherwise because the chicon retains water, the sauce may split a bit. Don’t worry, it will still taste good.
- Can be made a few days in advance, easy to reheat in microwave ( if you are that hungry) or in a preheated oven at 180 C for 20 min.
STEP 1: Cook the chicons, pat them dry and roll into slices of ham. Place in an oven casserole dish.
STEP 2: Pour the béchamel over the ham chicon rolls, and top with grated cheese. Add plenty of nutmeg.
STEP 3: Place under the oven grill for 10 – 15 minutes to “gratin” the cheese. Serve immediately while pipping hot.
My chicon ( Belgian endive) gratin
Yield 4 portions
- 4 chicons
- 4 slices of ham
- 500 ml milk
- 3 table spoons of butter
- 70 gr grated cheese ( Gruyere, Cheddar & Emmental) + extra
- 3 tablespoon flour
- grated nutmeg
- Wash the chicons, cut the bottom 1 cm off ( very bitter) , remove damaged leaves. Bring salted water to a boil and add the chicons. Cook the chicons till soft but still hold together. Drain and pat the chicons dry, remove moisture as much as possible.
- Roll the chicons in slices of ham and place in ovenproof casserole dish.
- Make the béchamel, add the butter to a pan. Let melt , add the flour, cook out the flour for a few minutes while stirring with wooden spoon. Add the milk gradually while stirring until thickening. Add the cheese, stir to combine and melt. Add grated nutmeg, season with salt and pepper. Pour the béchamel over the ham rolls. Top with some cheese.
- Pre heat the grill in the oven and grill the casserole for 10 to 15 minutes till a nice crust is formed. Serve immediately with potatoes and extra cheese.
on www.leeksandhighheels.com by Sandra Slawinski
Written and photographed by Sandra Slawinski without commercial deals. I used my own stuff: dishtowel from ZaraHome ( thank you Nia), casserole Hema, spoon Dille & Kamille, and thank you Morgane for the little black pots.