Chicon or endives gratin is a classic Belgian dish with endives wrapped in ham, covered with a rich, cheesy bechamel sauce. Bechamel is a white sauce based on flour, butter and milk.
Since both flour and milk are unappetizing to paleo enthusiasts / celiacs like ourselves, I omitted the flour laden bechamel sauce and made a simplified version with a bit more cheese instead.
Oh, and I used a cooked and mashed little white pumpkin as an extra vegetable puree. Very hard to cut and peel though, so next time I would go for butternut squash or sweet potato, or some other root vegetable.
What you need (for two):
- 5 endives
- 5 slices of quality cooked ham
- 5 slices of quality cheese ( I chose young biological cheese of the Gouda type )
- grated cheese ( I chose goat cheese for this, but you can use emmenthal or gruyere, whatever you like most really )
- a small pumpkin
- butter and olive oil
- salt and pepper, optional: nutmeg
What you do:
- Peal the outermost layer off of the endives if necessary (not biological), cut them lengthwise in half, and cut out the bitter end.
- Fry them over low heat in a skillet, in butter and olive oil, until golden brown. Turn occasionally and cover while they are cooking, have patience. You want soft, caramelized endives. Dark edges are fine. Season with salt and pepper, and nutmeg if you like the taste of it.
- Let them cool down a bit. Meanwhile, heat up the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
- Get out your slices of ham and cheese and wrap them around the reconstructed 5 endives. Wrap them in the ham first, so you end with the cheese as the outer kayer. As you can see, large slices of both ham and cheese are easiest.
- Arrange the rolls in your oven dish and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Top off with a few small chunks of butter.
- Bake in the oven for about half an hour. Broil them for another five minutes or so, for a nice gratin with bubbling cheese.
It is really really good, you don’t miss the bechamel at all. The usual mashed potatoes are not necessary either, it is absolutely filling enough. You could leave out the ham to make it a vegetarian dish and it would still be very good.
To make absolutely sure that my root vegetables loving sweetie would be satisfied, I cut up a strange looking white pumpkin that I had lying around since before Christmas, cut it up, cooked it and mashed it with a little butter and mustard.
This dish should be accompanied by a nice red wine…. Bon appetit!