Endives au Jambon Gratinées (Braised Endive and Ham Gratin)
Raw endives are common in winter salads, but before I lived in France, I had no idea people ate them cooked. This rustic dish is an ideal expression of butter-soft braised endives wrapped in ham and blanketed with béchamel sauce. Note that because the cooked endives produce a lot of liquid, which can turn the béchamel watery, they benefit from a gentle (but thorough) squeeze.
Serves: 4-6
  • 8 medium endives
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (500 ml) milk
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg, plus more as desired
  • Fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thin slices ham, such as Virginia ham
  • ¾ cup (120 grams) grated Comté, cheese
  1. Place the steaming rack in the pressure cooker and add 1 cup (250 ml) water. Trim the base of each endive and pull off any discolored or wilted outer leaves. Arrange the endives on the rack in a single layer. Cook on high pressure for 7 minutes.
  2. While the endives are cooking, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture smells slightly toasty, about 5 minutes. Pour in the milk and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. Boil for 1 minute, whisking continuously. Remove béchamel sauce from heat and add the nutmeg. Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. When the endives have finished cooking, manually release the steam. Test an endive by piercing it with the tip of a paring knife. If there’s any resistance, close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker and allow them to sit in the residual heat for 3 to 5 minutes before testing again. Transfer the endives to a plate.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
  5. When the endives are cool enough to handle, gently squeeze them to remove as much liquid as possible. Blot them dry with paper towels. Wrap each endive with a slice of ham and arrange them in a baking dish. Pour the béchamel sauce over the endives and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling. Switch the oven to broil and lightly brown the cheese, watching carefully to be sure it doesn’t burn.
Serves: 4 as a light main course or 6 as a side dish

Photo credit: Ashley McLaughlin
Recipe by Comte USA at https://comte-usa.com/endives-au-jambon-gratinees-braised-endive-and-ham-gratin/