I love autumn so much. I think that’s the sentiment of everyone right now. This year I almost wasn’t ready to let summer go, but now the leaves have turned. The air has a definite chill in it. We started sleeping with the down comforter plus an extra blanket a few nights ago. This afternoon I’ll pack the kids and some food into the car and we’ll head up the canyon to my husband’s aunt’s family farm for a little party with the cousins. I’ll be sure to pack a sweater for everyone too.
One of our favorite fall recipes is Endive and Ham Au Gratin. This is a recipe I make for my husband when the weather is cool outside. Endive is in season now through the early spring. It’s hard to find sometimes where I live, and it can be pricey. Not to mention that cloaking it in a layer of fancy ham, bechamel and Gruyere is a little too decadent for the every day. It’s more for special occasions. And I think the occasion for this was “just because I love you.”
I believe the original recipe (maybe Martha’s?) called for Black Forest Ham. I’ve used a few slices of Gran Biscotto that I picked up at Caputo’s. It’s pretty much the best ham ever. I called my husband on my way home to tell him what I’d picked up and he said, “Is it that one ham? The one they call the Best Ham in the World?” I smiled. “Yes, I believe it is.” And it really is.
The third key player here is the Gruyere. Sure, you could use another Swiss-style cheese and it would be fine. But you’ll be missing out on tons of flavor. But seriously though, use the Gruyere. It’s the quintessential melting cheese in my book. A little bit goes a long way on flavor, but I won’t stop you from adding more. :)
- For endive:
- 4 Belgian endives, stem end trimmed and any withered outer leaves removed
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- For bechamel:
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 slices gran biscotto ham
- 1/2 cup grated Gruyere
- For endives:
- Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 1 Tbsp. butter and heat until foaming. Add the endives and sprinkle with the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and lower heat. Cook for about 30 minutes, turning the each endive over once or twice during cooking time. Keep warm until ready to assemble the casserole.
- While the endives are braising, prepare the bechamel.
- For bechamel and assembly:
- In a small saucepan, heat the other 1 Tbsp. butter until foaming. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, cooking for about 1 minute. Add the milk and whisk well. Let simmer for a few minutes, whisking constantly. Add the salt and the pinch of nutmeg. Keep warm until ready to use.
- Once endives have finished braising, drain off any extra liquid (reserve it to add to the bechamel) and wrap each one in a slice of the Gran Biscotto ham and place in the buttered gratin dish. Top with the bechamel and grated Gruyere.
- Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the entire casserole is bubbling and the cheese has browned on the top.
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Category: main dish
- Cuisine: French