How to Make Endives and Ham Gratin
- Add 10 ½ cups of water, sugar, salt and butter in a large pot and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the endives to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 45 minutes or until very tender.
- Use a slotted spoon and transfer the endives to a plate with paper towels, reserving 1 1.4 cup of the cooking water.
- When cool enough to handle, squeeze the endive to release the excess water.
- Wrap each endive with a slice of the ham and transfer to a baking dish. Make sure to fit them snugly; there should be no space between them. Set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degree F.
For Béchamel Sauce
- Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat until golden.
- Add flour to the butter and cook it for about 2 minutes or until the mixture smells nutty. Make sure to keep whisking to avoid forming clumps and burning.
- Add milk and reserved cooking water from the endives the saucepan in a slow and steady stream, while continuing to whisk; bring the sauce to a boil.
- Add nutmeg and pepper to the sauce and keep whisking for another 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
- Pour the béchamel sauce over the endives and spread to cover evenly; and Sprinkle the Gruyère cheese evenly over the top.
- Put the dish in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and melted.
- If you want the cheese to be crusty and browned, then broil the dish for 1-2 minutes after its done baking.
- Serve hot.
Endives were discovered by a Belgian farmer during the year 1830, when he found that when chicory roots are stored in dark and wet conditions, they can sprout and produce cream colored leafy heads. Soon after their discovery, endives became famous in the local region a new type of vegetable called “white gold”, better known a “witloof”.