Posted by: Part-Time Audiophile | August 6, 2009

Endives

Endives are very bitter, which is an interesting thing to add to your plate especially if you’re paying attention to the whole salt-sweet-bitter-sour thing (which is an unadulterated goodness, IMO).

Endives are grown entirely enclosed in dirt, so the only thing that should have a greenish color is the very tips (the part that pokes out of the ground). Note that this growing method tends to create a rather fussy vegetable, that is, it likes what it likes — which is darkness. You need to store endive? Don’t put it in a plastic bag. Try paper. Better yet, aluminum foil — just keep it away from the light or it’ll start to oxidize and turn a delightful shade of gooey brown as it dissolves. Yum!

They’re hard to find, unfortunately. Unpopular, I guess. But this means that the “endive section” at your local grocer is likely to have some rather un-spectacular specimens on display. For you the shopper, you want a clean, yellowish-white veg with pale green only at the very tips. The whole should be exceedingly firm to the touch. Softness or brownish spots = old endive, so stay away — they’re extra bitter and since part of the endive joy is crispness, old ones kinda suck.

I’ve had endives raw — in appetizer salads, or even as the vehicle itself for a salad, such as an endive leaf holding a small salad of mandarin orange slices and shallots tossed in a light white wine vinaigrette and topped with toasted almond slices. Pretty much perfect.

A common (for Europeans, I guess) way to prepare endive is to braise it. That is, slow cook it in stock (veggie or chicken are fine) and serve it up as a side dish to something light, like chicken or fish. Personally, my favorite way to do this is with a “meuniere preparation”. Observe:

Braised endive meuniere

Ingredients

  • 2 (or more, as needed) whole endives
  • Stock (chicken or veggie)
  • All purpose flour
  • Butter
  • Chives (or some other fine herbs, including parsley, thyme, sage, &c)
  • Lemon juice

Preparation

Cut the endives in half and lay cut-side down in a buttered skillet. Partially cover in stock, say, up to the halfway mark on the endives.

Season with salt, pepper & a pinch of sugar.

Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the endives.

Cover with a buttered “cartouche”, a piece of parchment paper cut to the size of the inside of the pan, leaving only about 1/2″ on the outside exposed.

Bring to a boil on the stove and finish in the oven at 350. Should take about 20 minutes, maybe more. Endives are finished when you can pass a knife easily through the stem end.

Remove from any remaining broth and let cool.

Dredge in flour and shake off any excess.

In clean skillet, add ~1T clarified butter. Heat on med-high. Lay the floured endives in the pan and generously brown on both sides, ~5 mins a side. Make sure to turn enough to brown all the flour.

Remove to plate.

Working quickly, add ~2T of “regular” butter to the hot pan. Brown the butter — that is, cook the butter in the pan till the milk solids begin to turn brown and smell nutty. Do not burn the butter! Add herbs, toss to coat, and cook for ~1 minute.

Pour over endives.

Serve!

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