Ham and Endive Gratin
Ham and Endive Gratin is a popular classical Belgian dish. Although Belgium usually takes credit for the tasty cuisine, its origins are actually French. Belgium has strong French, German, and Flemish cultural influences which contribute to the cuisines that are offered across the country. This cheesy, hot, rich, and comforting dish is known as “Chicons au Gratin” in Belgium and “Endives au Gratin” in France. The endive is a plentiful and inexpensive leafy vegetable in both France and in Belgium, which is in part how this particular dish came to be. While Ham and Endive Gratin is offered year round in Belgium, it is most popularly served in the winter. Serve this flavorful and simple meal with fresh baguettes and a greens salad with a simple vinaigrette.
8 endives, trimmed
4 tablespoons butter, divided
8 slices prosciutto (you may also use regular sliced ham)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1.5 cups whole milk
1 cup Gruyere, Swiss, or Emmetenaler cheese (or a combination), divided
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, divided
Salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the endives and simmer until tender (approximately 5-10 minutes).
Drain the endives through a strainer, then place on a plate lined with paper towel. With another paper towel, lightly dab as much water as possible from the endives, being careful not to squash them.
Add 2 tablespoons butter to a medium-sized saucepan and melt over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the endives to the pan and brown on each side, turning occasionally.
Take the endives off of the heat. Wrap each endive with a piece of ham and set aside.
In another saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over moderately low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk together well for approximately one minute to form a roux. Do not let the roux brown. Once combined, slowly add the milk while whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
Add 1/2 of the cheese mixture, the nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the sauce to thicken by simmering approximately 8 minutes.
Oven time! Ensure your oven is heated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take half of the sauce mixture and spread it in a 9 X 13 glass or ceramic baking dish. Place the ham-wrapped endives in a single layer in the dish. Put the rest of the sauce over top the endives, then sprinkle all the remaining cheese on top. Place in the oven at 375 Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Then, turn the broiler on high and let broil until the cheese is bubbly and turning brown (approximately 3 minutes).
Take out of the oven, and enjoy!