I mentioned below that part of the dinner we made for Rishia & Andrew Zimmern was an endive gratin. Several years ago, we had the Zimmerns over for dinner and I'm not sure why, but I had several heads of endive in the cooler. I also had half of a loaf of challah bread, and somehow I decided that an endive gratin, topped with challah crumbs, would be a great side dish to whatever I was serving (I'm thinking it was lamb). It was apparently a good choice, because Andrew has reminisced about the gratin a few times since and even requested it for dinner last week, so here it is, with a brand-new name - Andrew's Endive & Leek Gratin.
Most people know endive (ahn-deev or en-dyv, you choose, or you could use both, randomly, as I do, perhaps because I feel a little dramatic saying ahn-deev) in its raw state and as such - with pretty, sturdy leaves perfect for dipping, or in salads where it lends a pleasant bitterness and good crunch - it's completely delicious.
But endive also makes a beautiful gratin, especially in contrast with sweet leeks. From under buttery breadcrumbs, endive emerges surprisingly silky and savory, a perfect complement to a roast or even fabulous on its own for a light supper.
Do not skip the drizzle of cream (a general rule to live by, now that I see it written here).
Stay tuned for Part III: Molten Chocolate Cakes. Andrew shared his recipe, so now you too can hurt yourself a little bit with melting chocolate-y insanity, uff (so good). Moderation, wherefore art thou?
Andrew's Endive & Leek Gratin
1 Tbsp. soft butter for the pan
juice of one lemon
salt and freshly ground pepper
10 whole endives, bottoms trimmed, outermost leaves discarded, cut in half, washed and dried
1 Tbsp. butter
2 leeks, washed carefully, white part only, halved and sliced thinly
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/3 c. chicken broth
1/3 c. heavy cream
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 c. challah bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. melted butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9x13 baking pan or casserole dish with butter. Fill a very large skillet with about 1/2-inch of water, the lemon juice, garlic clove, 1 tsp. of salt, and bring water to a simmer. Lay the endive cut-side down into the water and cover the pan. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the endive base is very tender when pierced with a fork. Using tongs, remove endive from the pan and lay cut side up into the buttered baking pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Discard endive-cooking water. Return pan to medium heat and add 1 Tbsp. of butter. When it's melted, stir in the leeks, garlic, and a little pinch of salt and saute until the leeks are quite soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. Distribute leeks over the endive.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, cream, a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Pour over the endive and leeks. Use the same bowl to toss together the challah crumbs and 1 Tbsp. of melted butter. Distribute bread crumbs over the endive and leeks. Put pan in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until nicely browned and bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.