Belgian endive and ham casserole, also called chicory and ham gratin, is creamy, cheesy and flavorful. The slightly bitter endive is rolled into a slice of ham and baked in a cheesy Gruyere white sauce, comforting and delicious!
Endive aka Belgian endive or chicory or white endive is a slightly bitter vegetable that can be eaten cooked, steamed or baked. It is also delicious in salads, I like to add one to mixed green leaves salads.
The bitterness of endives lies in their core, to cut out on the bitterness I first remove a chunk of about 2 inches at the root end, then I halve them and remove the rest of the core. I generally cook them into a vegetable or chicken broth to which I add a teaspoon of sugar, this will not sweeten the broth but it will help soften the bitter taste of endive.
Adding sugar to the boiling water will soften the powerful taste of vegetables like artichokes, Brussel sprouts or asparagus for example.
Endives are very interesting when on a diet as they are very poor in calories.
For this recipe, I first cook the endives in a broth for 15 minutes, let them cool, meanwhile I make a cheesy white sauce. Once my endives are cool enough to handle, I roll them into a half slice of ham, arrange them into a buttered casserole pan, smother them in white sauce and bake them for 30 minutes.
Endive and ham casserole is a one pan meal that can be enjoyed with a salad. I count 2 endive rolls per person.
2.2 pounds (1 kg.) Belgian endives
1 cube of vegetable or chicken broth
1 tsp sugar
8 slices of ham
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
2 tbsp. butter
Into a large pan, bring to boil enough water to cover the endives, add the cube of broth and 1 teaspoon sugar
Remove the wilted leaves of endives if necessary, trim about 2 inches of the root end, halve them and remove the rest of the core, add to the boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes, keep one cup of the broth for the white sauce, drain the endives and let cool until easy to handle
Pre-heat your oven at 400°F (200°C)
Meanwhile make the white sauce, into a saucepan, on medium/high heat, add the butter, once bubbly add the flour and cook it for about 2 minutes stirring constantly, add the broth and milk, stir until thickened, add salt and pepper to taste, nutmeg if using, remove from the heat, add half the grated Gruyere and stir in
On a cutting board, arrange/assemble 8 endives, complete them with the stray leaves, roll them each into a slice of ham
Into your casserole pan, pour enough white sauce to cover the bottom, arrange the endive rolls, cover with white sauce and sprinkle them with the rest of the grated Gruyere
Into the oven for about 30 minutes or until the top of the rolls is golden, if you like you can broil them 2 minutes under the broiler of your oven
Serve hot with a mixed salad
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