Crunchy, pleasantly bitter Belgian endive steps away from its leading role as a salad ingredient to star in this creamy, traditional French baked side dish or main course. With softer flavor and texture and a blanket of ham and gooey, nutty Gruyère cheese, it’s a bundle of deliciousness that’s a perfect meal on its own or paired with a simple green salad.
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 6 heads Belgian endive, tough outer leaves removed and roots trimmed but intact
- 1 cup gluten-free chicken broth
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 12 thin slices deli ham (6 oz total)
- ½ cup heavy cream, divided
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1½ cups (3 oz) finely grated Gruyère cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Grease a 9-by 13-inch baking dish with a bit of the butter.
- Halve each endive lengthwise, through the root.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Place the endive, cut-side down, in a single layer. Let cook, undisturbed, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle low simmer, place a lid on and cook until endives are just tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Gently transfer the endives to a plate to cool. Bring the broth to a boil again and reduce it by half, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Use a paring knife to carefully remove the tough root ends of the endives without disconnecting the layered leaves. Season with the salt and pepper, then wrap a slice of ham around each endive half. Nestle the wrapped endives, cut side down, in the prepared baking dish.
- Whisk 6 tablespoons of the heavy cream and the mustard into the reduced chicken broth and then pour into the bottom of the baking dish around the endives. Sprinkle the grated Gruyère over the endives and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream.
- Place the baking dish in the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown in spots, about 30 minutes. Switch oven to the broiler setting until the cheese is deep golden and bubbling, 30 to 60 seconds. Serve immediately.