Caramelized Chicory (Belgian Endive) with Taleggio
This is an utterly delightful dish that makes frequent appearances at our dinner table. It is a recipe that originated with Yotam Ottolenghi, who is the source of so many exceedingly well balanced vegetarian recipes. Here rich Taleggio cheese, which melts into a fondue-like sauce, meets bitter chicory, crisp breadcrumbs, and a sprinkle of thyme. A light summer dinner might consist, as it did tonight, of a pan-European menu of thinly sliced French saucisson sec, a handful of sweet cherry tomatoes, an excellent Wachau Gruner Veltliner, and this fine dish.
Ottolenghi recommends removing the rind from Taleggio, but the ugly orange stuff, studded with mould, holds additional flavour that, if you’re not timid, marks the difference between beautiful and sublime.
2 T unsalted butter
Maldon salt and cracked pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
6 chicories, halved lengthwise
1 tsp thyme
250g (or so) taleggio, one slice per chicory half
a fistful of fresh breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 200C, broiler on if you like.
Place a large skillet (I use a massive slab sided pan) on a medium heat. When it’s hot, add the butter and chicories, cut side down, in quick succession.Let them cook for a few minutes, then turn them over onto their round side and sprinkle the sugar onto them. Then turn them back over and cook until they begin to turn a deep golden brown. Turn off the flame and turn the chicories back over again. Lay a slice of Taleggio on each chicory and then sprinkle the whole lot with breadcrumbs. Broil in your nice hot oven until the cheese relaxes utterly and the breadcrumbs are nicely brown.
Note: if you have a plastic-handled skillet, don’t place it under the broiler. If you don’t have a plastic handled skillet, don’t buy one. Broiler heat is also hard on teflon. Life is hard for teflon in general, because it’s crap.