Caramelized Chicory (Belgian Endive / Witloof)
This recipe comes from Sophie Grigson. Here the fresh bitterness of chicory is exquisitely counterbalanced with orange and honey. There is a hint of smokiness that comes through the mix, which makes this dish hit so many lush notes that, for such a simple recipe, it’s like a one-man band sounding like a full orchestra. Amazingly delicious.
25g unsalted butter
3 or 4 heads of chicory, halved lengthwise
2 tsp or so honey
Juice of one orange (preferably a tart one of medium size)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 180C. Butter a large baking dish, then pack the chicory halves in a single layer into the dish. Pour the orange juice over along with a drizzle of the honey. Dot the remaining butter over the surface and season with salt and pepper.
Roast uncovered for an hour or so, turning the chicory every 15 minutes. Watch the progress at the end. There should be a thick syrup in the dish that you can baste the chicory with, but it shouldn’t be allowed to stick and burn. Serve immediately.
NB: Don’t use packaged orange juice of any sort. The flavours are concentrated in this dish, and bad orange juice will just taste extra bad. There is simply no packaged orange juice that is any way a substitute for fresh squeezed.