Monday, 20 February 2012

Braised chicory with Roquefort

Having spent the last 10 days in France it's struck me again what a mystery it is that you can't order more vegetable-based dishes in French restaurants. It's not that they don't have the produce. Down in the Languedoc they have gorgeous leeks right now and great bagfuls of chicory which is something you rarely find in the UK - or not at a reasonable price. Yet the only greenery most restaurants seem to offer - and have done for the past umpteen years - is salade de chèvre chaud (grilled goats' cheese salad).

Anyway I took advantage of some very good prices (about €2.50 a kilo) to buy 5 heads of chicory to make a side dish to go with yesterday's roast chicken. This is roughly the recipe.

Braised chicory with Roquefort
Serves 4-6
5-6 heads of chicory
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
20g butter
About 125ml chicken or vegetable stock
50g Roquefort or other blue cheese. Or almost any leftover cheese for that matter - Comté would be good.

Cut the heads of chicory in half lengthwise and remove any damaged outer leaves. Fill a large shallow pan with water, bring to the boil and add the lemon juice to stop the chicory discolouring. Add the chicory, reduce to a simmer and cook for 4-5 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon.

Discard the water from the pan, add the oil and then the butter. Once melted lay the halved chicory heads in the pan and fry until well browned, turning them carefully halfway through so as not to break them up. Lay them cut side upwards in a shallow baking dish, pour over the stock and crumble over the cheese. Cook alongside whatever roast you're cooking for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is lightly browned and the stock pretty well evaporated.

I also made a dish of leeks vinaigrette for which I posted a recipe on the blog a couple of years ago. Good to be reminded how good it is though and leeks are very tasty at the moment.


Nige Bamford said...

Spooky - for the first time in years I bought a couple of large heads of chicory from my local greengrocer on Saturday (50p each) and am braising them tonight (a la Simon Hopkinson - 2 hours in a low oven with lemon juice and a little butter)

Olivia Heal said...

...I have long thought on the lack of veg in French restaurants. Besides "salade" there is also the occasional and likewise unsusbstantial "petites legumes". Is it perhaps because veg is the food of the poor, the provincial and country cooking (as per Elizabeth David)?. Anyway, Endives plus Roquefort must be one of my favourite dishes, a joy to remember it. Thank you!

Fiona Beckett said...

That IS spooky, Nige. Or maybe it's just the right time of year. It was Simon Hopkinson who got me back into chicory a few years agao. (Not in person, sadly - through one of his books!)

And glad it brings back memories Olivia. A much underrated vegetable (certainly by the French!)

laura@howtocookgoodfood said...

I love braised chicory and always forget to cook it. Normally it can be bit pricey to buy but seeing as it's in season I must get some. I remember having it in salads when I was little and trying desperately to like it whilst wincing at it's bitterness!

Fiona Beckett said...

Agree, Laura. It's one of those veg that's totally different cooked than it is raw. Giving it this treatment reduces the bitterness and replaces it with an intense savouriness that makes it a great side dish for a roast bird. I also like it with pork.

Definitely worth looking out for in markets and old-fashioned greengrocers here - and maybe Aldi or Lidl?

Unknown said...

I love chicory and always forget you can cook it. Will give this a go.