The Belgian endive is considered one of the most essential vegetables in the Belgian kitchen. The smooth, creamy white leaves may be served stuffed with minced meat, baked, boiled, cut and cooked in a milk sauce, or simply cut raw for salad. The tender leaves are slightly bitter; the whiter the leaf, the less bitter the taste. The harder inner part of the stem at the bottom of the head should be cut out before cooking to prevent bitterness and at cooking may be useful to add a pinch of sugar.
Since I lived 15 years in Belgium I was kind of obliged to learn how to cook the Belgian endive or in the Flemish part it was called witloof. I have to confess when first time I accidentally chose as a side dish I was very disappointed because of its bitter taste. Then for a while if I could I avoided it. But slowly I became on good term with the chicory and liked to prepare soup or salad. Since I have found an excellent endive recipe I am almost at the border of addiction.
Stuffed guinea-fowl in porto caramelized endives
Ingredients: 1 guinea-fowl, 4-6 endives, Porto wine, bay leaf, thyme, 1 chicken bouillon
For the filling: 2 slices of bread, cream cheese, such as Philadelphia or Kiri, 1 onion, chopped parsley, 150 gr chicken liver, 1 egg
- First prepare stuffing. Add egg, finely chopped onion, chicken liver, (optional) cream cheese to breadcrumbs and season with chopped parsley. Put everything in the food processor and blend well. 2. Loosen the skin of the guinea fowl and place the stuffing in the cavity. Then rub it with salt and pepper. 3. Secure fowl with kitchen string and start to sauté in the melted butter, initially over a high heat then a low one. 4. When both side of the fowl is golden brown pour over chicken boillon. After 20 minutes add the endives (previously cleaned and cut in half) and pour over Porto wine. Simmer fowl and endives together. After about 25 minutes the guinea-fowl and endives should be tender. 5. Prepare potato purée and serve with some salad.
A gratin of chicory with cheese This recipe is a Belgian classic.
Ingredients: 4 bulbs of endive, 4 slices of Parma ham, Gouda cheese, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg powder
For the white sauce: 1 tbs butter, 1 tbs flour, 150 ml milk, 100 gr grated cheese.
1. Trim the bottoms of endives so that the leaves remain 2 to 3 inches long. Cut each endive in half. 2. Wrap ham around endives and place them into a buttered oven-proof dish. 3. Make the bechamel sauce from the butter, flour, milk or water. Flavour with nutmeg. Salt softly because the parmaham is already salty enough. 4. Pour the bechamel sauce over endives, grate some cheese over the top and put into the microwave for 7 to 10 minutes. 5. Serve with fresh French bread.
Curry flavoured chicory with lambs
You need four endives, 1 bayleaf, 4-5 cloves, 1 dl chicken bouillon, 1 dl porto wine, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 pinch of sugar, 1 teaspoon curry
Clean the endives cut out stems. Melt butter in a pan and add halved endives. Sauté for 3 minutes then season with salt and pepper, flavor with bayleaf, cloves and curry. Pour over chicken bouillon and porto wine and simmer over lower heat until endives are tender.
For the lamb: 4 lamb steaks, 3 cloves garlic, thym, rosemary, butter
Prepare lamb, melt butter in a pan, add garlic. Sauté lamb, salt and pepper and flavor with rosemary and thym. Sauté until lamb is reached the required tenderness. Serve in hot with the endives.
Endive soup It is an excellent light soup.
Ingredients: 2 endives, 1 carrot, 1 l chicken bouillon, 2 cloves of garlic, butter, pepper to taste
(You can add two or three mushrooms as well)
Clean vegetables, then grate carrot. Melt butter in a saucepan, add garlic, carrot and chopped endives. After 3 minutes pour over bouillon. Cook for 15 minutes under covered lid. When the soup is ready put in a food processor and mix well. Serve with sour cream and crouton.
Belgian endive is also known as French endive, or witloof in Belgian Dutch, witloof in the United States, chicory in the UK, as witlof in Australia, endive in France, and chicon in parts of northern France and in Wallonia.
The technique for growing blanched endives was accidentally discovered in the 1850s in Schaerbeek, Belgium. Since then endive has been cultivated for culinary use by cutting the leaves from the growing plant, then keeping the living stem and root in a dark place. Today France is the largest producer of endive however Belgium exports chicon/witloof to over 40 different countries as well. In Belgium in market places it is often sold wrapped in blue paper in order to protect it from light and so that to preserve its pale color and delicate flavor.