Chicory, blue cheese and sultana gratin

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Preparation info

  • Serves

    4

    as a side dish
    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Vegetables: The new food heroes

Vegetables

By Peter Gordon

Published 2007

  • About

This dish is what might be described as agrodolce – sweet-and-sour. The vinegar provides the sourness – with a little help from the slightly bitter chicory – while the sugar obviously provides the sweetness. This gratin is great served with roast meats, boiled lobster or as part of a vegetarian buffet. It’s best cooked in a 2-litre ceramic roasting dish, or at least in one that won’t react with the vinegar.

Ingredients

  • 4 chicory bulbs, trimmed of any discoloured leaves and halved lengthways
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 100 g butter
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 100 g sultanas
  • 5 tablespoons cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 125 ml double cream
  • 100 g blue cheese, crumbled (try a sharp blue cheese like Stilton or Roquefort)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Lay the chicory on a chopping board and sprinkle with the sugar.

Heat a wide pan and add half the butter. Once it has melted and is sizzling, add the onion and cook over a high heat until it’s caramelized to a good deep golden colour, then add the sultanas and mix them in. Cook for a minute or so, stirring frequently, until the sultanas swell a little, at which point their sugars are heating up. Add the vinegar and ½ teaspoon of salt, and continue to cook until the vinegar has evaporated, stirring continuously. Tip into a roasting dish, scraping everything out.

Place the pan back on the heat and add the remaining butter. When it’s sizzling, place the chicory in, cut side down, and cook over a moderate heat until they turn golden – make sure the sugar doesn’t burn though. Take the pan off the heat and sit the chicory on top of the onions, cut side facing up.

Put the cream, 3 tablespoons water and the cheese in the pan and bring to the boil, then pour the mixture over the chicory. Seal the dish tightly with foil, place in the centre of the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Take the foil off and serve from the dish.