Thursday, August 04, 2016

What's on the MENU this week? Chicory enrobed in ham with a thick cheese sauce

We had this dish for supper tonight and wonder why it is not more popular. Chicory or witloof is a vegetable that is widely available, but we don't see many of you buying it. Nor do we remember ever seeing it on a restaurant menu. But, cooked the right way, it is delicious. You can also include this as a standard Banting dish. You could use slices of smoked chicken if you don't use pork. As the chicory needs proper draining, you might like to start boiling it a few hours before you eat. We are having four and using 300 ml of thick cheese sauce and grating cheddar on top.
Chicory enrobed in ham with a thick cheese sauce
2 large chicory bulbs per person - sea salt - one large slice of ham per chicory bulb - salt and pepper - a rich cheese sauce - more grated cheese for the top
Take a sharp paring knife and remove the bitter core of each chicory bulb. Insert the knife tip in the root and rotate it, a tent shaped piece will drop out, discard. Place all of the chicory in well-salted cold water. Bring to the boil. Drain the pot and repeat once again. This removes any residual bitterness from the chicory. Boil until it is very tender. Drain carefully and leave in a colander to continue draining. When they are cold, squeeze out any residual water and pat them dry. If they stay wet, it will thin out the cheese sauce. Wrap each bulb in a slice of ham. Place in rows in an ovenproof casserole. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over your thick cheese sauce. Top with a good grating of strong cheddar. The matured English cheddar at Checkers is especially good and well-priced. Put into the oven and cook uncovered for 20 minutes or until the top is browning and the sauce is bubbling. You can also put this under a hot grill. The flavour is close to asparagus. Enjoy with a crisp dry white wine. A white blend would also be good, but we chose a Chenin blanc, Forrester Meinert FMC 2010, which, predictably, was superb
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016
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