Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Orange and Honey Braised Chicory

There are few edible things that test me. I'm a hog at the best of times and not many foodstuffs that grow or walk on our earth are unpleasant to my palate. Not bad considering I was an incredibly fussy eater as a child.

However there is a vegetable that did test me until recently. Chicory, or the Belgian Endive, is one of those vegetables at this time of the year when they are high in season that you see sitting on a superstore shelf with the 'Reduced' tag on it as people tend to walk past wondering what it is. I've been eating them for years having great difficulty coming to terms with their natural bitterness. Often found shredded and tossed in salads with equally pungent ingredients such as blue cheese, walnuts and mustard, I've tried hard to love it and failed miserably.

Right at the core of the chicory sits the predominant bitterness. A sharp knife will remove the core making a much more pleasant vegetable. But braising the vegetable in a liquid makes things much more interesting. And that is what has turned me around to loving chicory like no other. An hour braising in an oven with orange, honey and mustard will caramelise the leaves, sweeten up the core and make for a brilliant bed for such things as poached fish or game.

Never give up on a lost cause is my motto. We aren't always going to instantly fall in love with particular foods no matter how much you love eating. Give it time, experiment with different flavours and cooking techniques and like the chicory with me, you will soon grow to love them.

Orange and Honey Braised Chicory
Serves 2 as an accompaniment

2 heads of chicory, cored and cut in half
2 tbsp olive oil
100ml fresh orange juice
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Dijon or English mustard
Salt and pepper

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C, GM4.
2 - Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan. Season the chicory with a little salt and pepper then put them into the pan cut side down. Cook for 2 minutes until it begins to colour.
3 - Pour over the orange and honey and bring to the boil. Stir in the mustard then place in the oven for 45 minutes, turning and basting every now and again.


Bellini Valli said...

I must admit to not really giving chicory a fair trial...but braising sounds like an excellent way to meld the flavours.

Wendy said...

Adore chicory! In fact, I'll be posting a fairly similar recipe to this next week. No honey though. I love the bitterness. :)

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

You're so good for sticking with it. I've never got to grips with chicory either and there are so many other foods I'd rather eat that I just don't try to like it.

Ros said...

The best thing is that citrus and honey give the perfect excuse to make this with duck. Yay, duck!

Lizzie said...

I can't bear to think of all that time I missed out on quality aubergine eating time, because I thought I didn't like it as a child!

I find griddling or bbqing chicory also makes it sweeter, but I love the stuff.

Jan said...

Interesting. This is something else I have never eaten. Learning all the time. Thanks David.

William Leigh said...

Hi mate, great post. It took me ages to love chicory too - I tend to half it and griddle it which turns it a little sweeter, then serve it tossed with orange segments, some griddled chicken and sultanas, with a dressing made of orange and reduced balsamic - lovely sweet sour hit.

Diligent Chef said...

Never give up on a lost cause is right. My girlfriend is a very fussy eater but I keep trying to force new recipes on her anyway. Slowly but surely she's starting to come around. Thanks for the recipe

Sylvie said...

Your persistence is impressive. I give most things a chance and maybe two, but if I still don't like it, I usually give up.

Ed Bruske said...

I love the slightly bitter component of chicories. Citrus and honey sounds like great pairings for a vegetable that is too often neglected--except in Italy, of course, where they eat great gobs of it.

Cynthia said...

Never had chicory.

Takeaway said...

Chicory is a nightmare but this actually worked for me! Have you thought of chicory on the bbq?

Erica said...

Hi David, found you via the BBC food boards and just had to comment on this post. Here in Holland we eat quite a lot of chicory, and one of my favourite ways of preparing it is to roll it in slices of ham(after you've removed the bitter bit), put it in an oven dish, and then cover it with slices of cheese. Bake until the cheese has melted and is a nice golden brown. Hope this is useful to you!


Aimée said...

A fussy eater? You? Wow, you must make your mother proud now!!

Sarah said...

Chicory is a bit like marmite - love it or hate it - but I'm definitely in the former camp for both.

For the doubters, there's a great chicory and pasta recipe in 'The Kitchen Revolution' by Rosie Sykes, Polly Russel and Zoe heron which is one of my current bibles (along with this blog, of course). I've played around with the recipe a bit as I think added lemon would be too much with the already bitter Chicory and I can't imagine the flavour of sage with it so I use parsley instead. In a nutshell you braise shallots in butter, remove from pan and brown some lardons. Then remove them from the pan, add a bit more butter and braise chicory quartered lengthwise with the bitter core removed. When they're brown add a glass or so of white wine, simmer until soft then add bacon and shallots and chopped parsley. Stir in about 100ml crème fraiche and mix in with cooked pasta (the book suggests fusilli). I've made this several times; easy and great for chicory lovers and converts.

susieq said...

hi, We have gites in France and chicory is cheap and easily available. I have tried it in a salad with apples, walnuts and roquefort, which is delicious. Everytime I have cooked it though it is bitter, great tip on removing the stalk. Going to add this to our menus for guests!!! Thank you. Will call it David's Braised chicory and probably serve it with a chicken dish