This is not a pretty dish. There, I have said it. But the soft, melting buttery endives sure make up for the lower visual appeal.
This is a recipe of Henri Tolouse-Lautrec. Tolouse-Lautrec was quite a foodie, often cooking for large groups of friends. Vegetarian he was not, but he did have a number of vegetable dishes that are worth trying. Instructions are minimal, so approach them with a little trepidation and experimentation.
This recipe cooks Belgium Endives, also called witlof, for up to an hour, or even more. They cook in butter and their own juice. The long, slow cooking softens them to a meltingly fine texture and sweetens them a little, just enough for them to lessen that strong bitter edge. I can’t get enough of them.
The cooking deeply caramelises the endive.
Belgian Endive in its Juice | Endives au Jus
Take some nice Belgian endive which has been washed, pared and dried. Put a good lump of butter in a deep cooking pot and let it heat. Add the endive and let them cook just until they are golden brown.
Salt and pepper the endive, cover the pot and let it simmer on the lowest heat for at least half an hour – it may take up to an hour or so, depending on the level of heat and the number of endive.
In the last 10 – 15 mins, if the endive are cooked and, if you have too much liquid, let it reduce a little with the lid off.
Serve and pour the remaining butter and juice over the endive.
This same method can be used for turnips and Jerusalem Artichokes.
The endive can be cooked whole or halved lengthwise and then cooked – they will take a shorter time.
It must be a very low heat.
A squeeze of lemon before covering the pot is a nice addition.
They can be cooked in the oven at 150C. Use an oven proof pan (a la crueset pan) for browning the endive. After browning, place in the oven for 45 – 60 mins, turn the endive over carefully, and cook for another 45 – 60 mins until the endive are very very soft.