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Braised Endives

[whitespace] A simpler way to enjoy a familiar garnish

By Paul Adams

Even the most exciting dish can be rendered boring with a tired garnish. Consensus seems to be that dessert's not dessert without a sprinkle of powdered sugar, a drizzle of sauce and a sprig of mint. Or salad a salad without flanking leaves of endive. I've seen endive boats' prows pointing at fish, steak, risotto--you name it. And once, at a party: the crudité of choice, ostensibly to be dipped into hummus, was endive leaves, each one filled with supermarket salsa and dotted with pomegranate seeds. So feature this: endive, cooked and eaten whole. It makes a nice side dish. Garnish creatively.

  • 4 endives (Belgian)
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp. sweet butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/8 cup sauvignon blanc or dry white wine
  • salt and pepper

Wash and trim the endives. Place them in a small casserole dish and squeeze the lemons over them. Salt and pepper them, and maybe put a little butter on each one. Pour in the stock and the wine, cover and cook at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until tender, turning the endives occasionally so they get juice on all sides. Top with béchamel sauce. (You don't know how to make béchamel sauce? Well, I'm only going to tell you once.)

  • 3 tbsp. sweet butter
  • 3 tbsp. white flour
  • 1 cup whole milk (room temperature if possible)
  • 2 shallots, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • paprika

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low flame. Stir in the flour and mix well while cooking until golden (approximately five minutes). Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. It works best if you add a tablespoon or so of milk, incorporate that fully, add a bit more, and so on. You don't want lumps. Add the shallots and bay leaf and stir constantly over very low heat for about three minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Continue to cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the shallots and bay leaf (the shallots are quite tasty at this point, by the way). Stir in a pinch of paprika and pour hot.

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From the July 13-26, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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