Gratin of Endives with Ham in Béchamel Sauce


I grew up French.  We spoke only French at home and I attended all French schools.  Yet where ever I find myself in the world, people always comment, “Oh, you’re French Canadian, not really French.”  It is a curious distinction since I feel I am simply, French.  At a recent French conversation lunch, the hostess placed a beautiful casserole of something bubbling under a blanket of luscious béchamel on the table.  As I wondered what this enticingly aromic dish might be, the group erupted in cheers that we were having “un gratin d’endives”.  It was a dish familiar to everyone but me, driving home that my French culture was perhaps a bit different after all.  Oh la la, was I happy to get an introduction to this dish!

Baked endives, wrapped in a slice of ham are smothered in a cheesy béchamel for a family style main dish served in many French and other European homes.  It is quite easy to make, especially once the endives are cooked. Because the endives hold water when cooking, it is imperitive to really squeeze all the water out of them. This is easiest done if they are cooked the day before and left to drain overnight wrapped in a paper towel, in a colander.  The rest of the dish consists of  just making a classic béchamel. Add a green salad, and you have a wonderful comforting French family style meal.

Merci, Christine, for introducing me to this lovely dish.

Continue reading