I fell in love with endive while living in Belgium. We were about twenty-minutes north of the French border, where cobblestone streets in the grande place (grahnd platz) branched in all directions from the center of the town, always leading us to the most delicious foods. Being away from the states for the first time, Belgian specialties seemed so exotic – bistros, restaurants and carts offered mussels, frites, crepes, waffles, and a funny looking lettuce that was braised or boiled and often served as a side dish; endive (pronounced on-deeve). Today, those “exotic” specialties are some of my favorite comfort foods, especially the endive.
Endive’s bitter bite turns sweet and mellow when braised. And when paired with bright citrus, local honey and salty bits of pancetta, it fills that need for an earthy winter side dish without being heavy. This particular recipe uses up the smaller leaves and hearts of the endive, which are often discarded after the larger leaves are used for appetizers or salads.
Citrus-Braised Endive with Pancetta
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: Makes 20 amuse bouclé
Allergy info: soy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free
2 tbsp. honey
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small grapefruit; zested and juiced
1 tbsp. peeled, grated gingerroot
1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
1 tbsp. kosher salt
5 white endive hearts (inner portion of the endive containing the smaller leaves and core)
1/2 cup minced pancetta
1 tbsp. olive oil
Citrus segments (optional)
Chopped fresh herbs (optional)
In a small bowl whisk together honey, garlic, juice, zest, ginger and vinegar; set aside.
In a large skillet heat water and salt over high heat; bring to boiling. Add endive; cook 3 minutes. Drain; slice endive into 1/2-inch rounds (about 4 pieces per endive). Dry skillet, add pancetta over medium-high heat; render until crispy, about 6 minutes.
Add olive oil and endive rounds; cook 3 minutes each side or until endive are caramelized. Remove endive, set aside. Add honey mixture to pan; bring to boiling. Reduce heat, cook 3 minutes or until thickened; season with salt and pepper to taste. Return endive to pan, coat with sauce.
Place endive rounds on individual serving spoons; drizzle with pan sauce. Garnish with citrus segments and fresh herbs, serve warm.
Recipe Note: The outer leaves of the endive, if not already being used, can be saved and used in salads, soups or appetizers.
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