This recipe comes from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges. It is a recipe passed down from his grandmother and he describes it as a “casserole of pure comfort.” Endive is bitter until you cook it enough and sweeten it. The endive is then wrapped in savory ham, drenched in béchamel sauce, and then topped with gruyere.

Did I say comfort food?

Home Cooking is an important book. Published in 2011, it’s not quite old enough to be considered a classic. Not yet, but it will be. You might want to find a copy and start dining on these immensely satisfying dishes now.


Braised Endive with Ham and Gruyere

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients:

For the endive:

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 8 large yellow Belgian endive, trimmed
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest ham

For the béchamel:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1 tablespoon plus
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the cheese topping:

  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (1 ⅔ cups)

Preparation:

To cook the endive, combine the butter, sugar, salt and 10 ½ cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Add the endive, cover, and cook until very tender, about 45 minutes. A knife should be able to pierce through with no resistance. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the endive to paper towels. Reserve 1 ¼ cups of the cooking liquid. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the endive.

Wrap each endive with slices of ham. Arrange the endive in a shallow baking dish that holds them snugly; you don’t want any space between the endive.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until golden. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture smells nutty, about 2 minutes. Continue whisking and add the milk, then the reserved endive cooking liquid in a slow, steady stream. Bring the mixture to a boil while whisking. Continue whisking until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg and pepper.

Pour the béchamel over the endive and spread to cover them evenly. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Set the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until bubbly and golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. If you want the top more browned and crusty, broil for a minute or two after baking. Serve hot.


Source: Home Cooking with Jean-Georges by Jean-Georges Vongerichten [Clarkson, 2011]