Skillet-Braised Endives

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

When I lived in Paris, I used to market on Rue Monge. A vegetable vendor, who insisted upon calling me “mademoiselle” despite my obvious state of pregnancy, gave me a litany of advice on perfect endive cookery. I've always followed his rules and added to them over the years:

  • Never soak endives in water. In fact, you don't even need to wash them if they've been sold in individual blue paper wrappers. Simply remove all damaged leaves, then rinse quickly.

  • Never leave raw endives sitting in a sunny spot lest their leaves oxidize (turn greenish). Remove all green leaves before using.

  • Don't add liquid to the pan unless absolutely necessary. Endives have sufficient moisture, which they will slowly release as they cook.

  • The slower the cooking, the sweeter the endives. Slow-cooking allows endives to produce their own steam, then cook in it. In fact, you can cook endives over the warm electric stove setting for up to three hours, and they will be even more delicious than usual.

  • Always remove the little hard center in the core. (I do this with the tip of a swivel-bladed vegetable peeler.)

  • Endives should be browned ever so slightly at the end as they begin to caramelize. This dish goes well with grilled or braised chicken or duck and with roast pork.

Ingredients

  • 8 plump Belgian endives
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons strained lemon juice or Banyuls wine vinegar (see Mail Order Sources)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. With a vegetable peeler or a small paring knife shave the root end of each endive. Hollow out the hard center, drilling up about ¼ inch. Rinse under running water; drain and pat dry. Put the butter in a heavy saucepan or deep skillet almost large enough to accommodate the endives in a single layer. Add the salt and sugar and the endives. Wet a sheet of parchment paper and place directly over the endives. Cover the pan and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes. (Steaming will make the endives shrink to one layer.) Rearrange the endives, cover, and cook for 30 more minutes.
  2. Carefully turn each endive over with a small spatula to avoid spoiling its shape. Continue cooking, covered, for another 30 minutes. Be careful not to burn the endives; if necessary, add spoonfuls of water or stock from time to time. The endives are done when they are very soft and lightly caramelized on all sides.
  3. About 5 minutes before serving, sprinkle the endives with lemon juice or vinegar. If necessary, increase the heat to reduce the pan juices to a syrupy sauce, taste for salt and pepper, and pour over the endives. Serve hot.