Belgian Endive Gratin

Belgian endive gratin is a classic French dish. Endive and prosciutto (or ham) are covered in cream and topped with cheese and bread crumbs. It makes a wonderful cold-weather comfort dish.

Two oval gratin dishes filled with braised endive gratin topped with bubbly browned cheese and breadcrumbs

If you’ve been limiting your endive game to crudité platters and cute appetizers, prepare to be astonished at how versatile endive can be. Wrapped in salty cured ham, topped with creamy cheese and crunchy breadcrumbs, and baked until bubbling and golden, this makes an impressive side or entrée, whether for weeknights or entertaining. And little-known fact: Belgian endive is actually loaded with vitamins and minerals. So, you know, this is health food.–Angie Zoobkoff

Belgian Endive Gratin

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 1 H, 10 M
  • Serves 6
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Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons butter (1 oz), plus more for the gratin dishes
  • 3 or 4 slices day-old bread or lightly toasted fresh bread
  • 9 small heads Belgian endive (about 1 lb)
  • 1 quart store-bought or homemade chicken stock
  • Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper
  • 18 thin slices prosciutto or jambon cru (dry-cured ham) (3 oz)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups finely grated Comté or Gruyère cheese

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • 2. Rub the smashed garlic over the bottom and sides of 6 individual gratin dishes or 1 large baking dish. Then butter the gratin dishes.
  • 3. Tear the bread into pieces, place them in a blender or food processor, and pulse until coarsely ground, 15 to 30 seconds.
  • 4. Cut each endive lengthwise in half, remove any tough or bruised outer leaves and trim the root ends but leaving the root intact. Place the endive, cut-side down, in a single layer in a large, deep sauté pan. Place over medium-high heat, pour in the chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and braise, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a bare simmer, just until tender, 3 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the endive to a plate and let cool. Reserve the stock used for braising the endive.
  • 5. Once the endive is cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to remove the tough root ends, being careful not to separate the layered leaves. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Wrap each endive half with a slice of prosciutto.
  • 6. Spoon 1 tablespoon heavy cream into the bottom of each gratin dish or spoon 6 tablespoons in the bottom of a single baking dish. Place 3 endive halves, cut-side down, in each gratin dish or place all the endive halves in the single baking dish. Drizzle 1 tablespoon reserved chicken stock into each gratin dish or pour 6 tablespoons stock into the large baking dish. Reserve the remaining stock for another use, such as making soup. Cut the butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the gratin dishes and then drizzle the endive with the remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream. Divide the cheese among the gratin dishes.
  • 7. Place the gratin dishes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the gratin dishes and bake until the gratins are bubbling and the bread crumbs are nicely browned, about 5 minutes more. Serve immediately.

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Recipe Testers Reviews

When I first saw this recipe for Belgian endive gratin, it reminded me of a Dutch Witlof (Belgian endive) dish my husband grew up eating in his native Holland. He said it brought back good memories and it passed his taste test. His mom would serve it alongside boiled potatoes and roast meat. I served this with bratwurst and a green salad and it made for a nice Dutch-inspired meal for my family.

The pan I used for braising the endive was 12 inches in diameter and all the endive fit nice and snug. I simmered the endive for about 4 minutes until tender.I do not own gratin dishes so I used 2 medium-size cast-iron baking dishes and split the ingredients accordingly. I would recommend leaving out the bread crumbs from the recipe, it felt like an unnecessary step for something that didn't add much to the final dish. Another alternative would be to use store-bought bread crumbs.

This Belgian endive gratin is delicious. It is a very pretty presentation, can be assembled ahead of time, and baked for 30 minutes before you sit down to dinner, making it great for a dinner party. I served it with steak and a salad and it was the perfect accompaniment. This vegetable was elegant and greatly enjoyed.

I would make some slight changes to the recipe. I used my homemade chicken stock which gave it a wonderful flavor. The recipe says to take it out of the stock and let it cool on a plate. I would next time cool it in a colander. I found that some of the endive held on to too much of the liquid which then made it a little mushy. The recipe says to salt and pepper the endive before wrapping it in prosciutto, which I used rather than jambon cru. I found that the prosciutto was salty enough without adding more salt. And finally, the recipe says to wrap each half in a piece of prosciutto. I used a whole, but paper thin slice for each endive half. I think this was too much. You could use half that amount and wrap it around the endive half only once and more of the endive taste would come through.

Other than those few tweaks, this vegetable is amazing.

We ate this Belgian endive gratin as our main course for dinner. It was delicious. We halved the recipe and it was adequate for 2 as a main dish but hardly abundant. Clearly the recipe assumes this is being eaten as a side dish.

What a game changer! I only knew of endives as bitter bites that I would eat in salad. Braising them completely changed their flavor. Wrap them in prosciutto, top them with cheese and cream and crunchy breadcrumbs, and you’ll have a hit for your guests.

Side-dish deliciousness! The Belgian endive gratin was delicious. The endive cooked down nicely. The prosciutto added a lovely flavor, the Gruyère was a nice bitey cheese, and the bread crumbs a crunchy topping. A wonderful combination.

I used an Italian prosciutto. It was unclear what thickness was desired so I opted for thin (not super-thin) slices and that worked well.

Having never cooked endive before, nor being a maker of gratin dishes, I was both curious and apprehensive. I followed the recipe as-is with a few minor changes:

1. I used the smashed garlic to coat the dishes, but not wanting to throw the smashed garlic out, I minced it and just added it to the dish.

2. I didn't have enough au gratin dishes so I made it in individual gratin dishes and the remainder in a larger baking dish. Both turned out well, so feel free to use a bigger dish should that be all you have.

This Belgian endive gratin is a great recipe, a dish that is perfect as a main course, with a green salad, but also good as a side dish, especially in winter. The soft endives have some bitterness and that’s so good with the salty ham and the crunchy bread crumbs!

Comments

  1. Ohhhh, man. You’re taking me back to the three months we lived in Belgium on a sabbatical, and we could get witloof in the market in our town for 1.25€/kg. Here, it sells for $5/lb, which would make this dish a luxury. Is there any way to kludge this with something like escarole, which is more reasonably priced around my parts?

    1. Melissa, I love the way you’re thinking! I buy red endive often for salads and platters, and I know how pricey it can be. It’s a splurge. You may want to consider trying the packs of 3 endives (2 pale green, 1 red) at Trader Joe’s for about $2.49 each. That aside, we only post variations to recipes that we’ve actually tried in our home kitchens with tremendous success, so I hesitate to assure you that it will work with escarole since it has such a unique and watery texture. If you trim the frilly leafy green parts of the escarole leaves and save those for soup or salad or a quick saute, and use only the mostly white portion of the escarole stalk toward the bottom, which are more similar to endive, I think it may work. But the taste and texture are distinct, so I just can’t be certain. I’d be more inclined to simply embrace the merits of escarole and perhaps saute that (all parts of it) in some bacon drippings. But that’s just me…

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