Saturday, May 05, 2007

Should you trust a vegetable with so many identities?

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Chicory is a vegetable in need of an identity card. In British english the vegetable I call chicory is known in US english as Belgian Endive but also travels under the pseudonym of Witloof. Can you really trust a vegetable with so many identities? First of all, I almost had to hire a personal detective to track him down in the shops and then when he's trapped in my kitchen Mr Witloof, as I now call him, tries to confuse me. I've informed Interpol.

Freddie has regained confidence in this vegetable. He found caramelised chicory unpleasant so our next attempt in the Great Big Veg Challenge was to combine it with chicken. I adapted this from a recipe from the BBC food site for Chicory baked with Sage and Chicken. We made it a little less fatty. His score was eight of ten. "This is how you should always disguise the vegetables Mum." I could learn a trick or two about disgusing from Mr W...

Chicory with Herby Chicken

3 heads of chicory, stalks chopped off and quartered
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp chicken stock
4 chicken breasts cut into small cubes
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 medium onion finely chopped
Salt and pepper
2 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp of honey

1 tablespoon flour
25g butter
300ml milk
150 ml fromage frais or half-fat creme fraiche
2 tsp of french wholegrain mustard
Enough grated cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top

Heat oven to 180.
Cut off stalks of chicory and quarter. Lay out leaves on baking tray that had been greased. Pour over the stock and the olive oil. Put on lid or foil to cover and bake in oven for ten to 12 mins.
Whilst that is baking, put the chicken in a pan on the hob with a tablespoon of olive oil, honey, herbs and stir for 5 mins. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then add finely chopped garlic clove. Add chopped onion. Stir for another 2 mins on heat. Take Chicory out of the oven and add chicken. Wait a moment while you make the sauce to go on top.
Melt the butter in a pan, add the flour on a gentle heat and stir. Add milk a spoon at a time and stir constantly or it will stick. It should get thicker. Turn off heat and add the fromage frais and wholgrain mustard and stir it all. Pour this over chicken and chicory and sprinkle the cheddar on top and put back in oven for 25 mins. Cheese should look all nice and golden on top.


  1. That's an intriguing treatment for Belgian endive (chicory), Charlotte. I think Julia Child would approve. Although it's not on my diet, disquising with cheese and cream is a proven technique.

  2. Charlotte4:25 PM

    I know - I think Julia Child and Freddie would have got on like a house on fire. But when you are cooking for a child I think its about balancing things - you are cutting out the junk food but it does I think give you permission to use cheese and creme fraiche. It also tastes so good!

  3. Charlotte, I am a passionate vegetable lover and experiment with them all the time. Thing is, I hate badly done vegetables, so I often choose restaurants based on who offers nice ones.
    Come to me when you reach leeks and potatoes! I spent a winter working with leeks.
    I don't like carrots so I developed a carrot recipe I love and which makes me eat 5 or 6 at a time!
    Visit 'Think On It' and use the index feature to reach the vegetable posts, because I can do without almost everything, except vegetables.
    I salute this effort which will help your boy in many ways, not the least in helping him know how to grow himself.

  4. witloof, eh? Hadn't heard that one. I think I like it best though.

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