Belgian endive aka. endive, witloof, witlof, chickory, chicons.
The flagship of all ham rolls.
Sadly enough, I can no longer get them here in Deming, NM or in Las Cruces. Our local Peppers grocery store sold them once that I know about, some 15 years ago, but they were scrawny wilted things, going green from light exposure. I did buy them of course, and I made ham rolls with them, but I have not been able to find any since. I've been told big city stores both East and West carry it at times. Just not in between apparently.
Belgian endive are the shoots from the chicory root that have been forced in dark conditions to keep them white. A light yellow at the tip is acceptable. Green is not, because that makes the endive very bitter.
Endive is 95% or more water. Do not put raw endive in ham rolls. You have to cook them first and express as much water as you can. If you fail to do this, the sauce will become all watered down.
This is a traditional Flemish/Belgian recipe that is commonly made with 3 vegetables – Belgian endive, leek and white asparagus. It was specifically to make this recipe that I started growing leeks in 2013.
It is possible to use other vegetables as well. I have used fennel and eggplant and I’m thinking about trying lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and many others. The real attraction of this dish is the ham & cheese combination, which remains the same regardless what you add to it.
I finally did it. I found Belgian endive. I had to drive 75 miles to Las Cruces to get them, but I got them! An entire case of 10 lbs. witloof, aka Belgian endive, beautiful quality too.
My mother will either be laughing out loud or shaking her head when she reads this. As a kid, I hated the stuff so much I would throw it up in the bathroom. And here I am, driving 1 1/2 hrs. to get 10 lbs. of it. How people's tastes can change over the years. And the lure of things difficult to get too, of course.
2019-10-08Pic1a: endive ham roll
This is what you need for 4 servings:
Pic2: Belgian endive
Pic8+9: sauce, cheese
This is a simplified version of the ham rolls, same ingredients but different presentation. If preparing this from scratch, a cheesy béchamel will suffice, without the egg yolks to make Mornay.
This is also what I do to reheat leftover ham rolls. I cut them in pieces, and add some milk to liquefy the sauce and prevent burning while reheating.
This can also be prepared as a casserole. In that case, do use Mornay. Cut and add the witloof raw before baking.
Pic11: dice ham
that when you fry small pieces of ham, they can pop and jump just like pop-corn does?
Wear eye protection when you try this.