Sliced and added to salads or served as party-friendly edible scoops, endive leaves are typically separated from the vegetable's hearty base. Ross Bachhuber, the chef and owner of Odd Duck in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has other plans. He leaves the heads intact, then sautés them in white wine and lemon juice before braising the bitter endive in crème fraîche. The finished endive is permeated root to tip with the tangy cream, and collapses into buttery softness. Best of all, the top layer of prosciutto and blue cheese is crisped to golden-brown. We've found our new favorite winter side dish.
Braised Endive with Prosciutto and Gorgonzola
Recipe adapted from Ross Bachhuber, Odd Duck, Milwaukee, WI
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
10 large Belgian endive heads, roots trimmed and outer leaves discarded
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup crème fraîche
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ pound (about 4 thin slices) prosciutto
½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 300°. In a large skillet set over medium heat, add the butter, sugar and nutmeg and stir until the butter is melted. Add the endive heads and the lemon juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves begin to wilt slightly and the liquid is almost evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the white wine and stir to coat the endive heads. Season with the salt and pepper.
2. To an 8-by-8-inch square baking dish, add the endive heads in a single layer. In a small bowl, mix together the crème fraîche and the heavy cream and spread the mixture evenly over the top of the endives. Lay the prosciutto on top of the endives, overlapping the pieces slightly, and sprinkle the Gorgonzola evenly over the top. Loosely cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake until the endive is tender and a paring knife easily slips into the center of the largest head, about 1 hour.
3. Remove the foil and adjust the oven rack to the uppermost position. Turn the broiler to high. Broil until the cheese is browned and the prosciutto is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes (watch the cheese closely, as broiler intensities vary). Remove the dish from the oven and cool slightly before serving.