Vegetable Experiment of the Day: Braised Endive

Vegetable Experiment of the Day: Braised Endive

Vegetable Experiment of the Day — Braised Endive One reason I’m experimenting with vegetables is that I’m planning my garden for next summer, and I don’t want to wind up with a freezer full of fine organic veggies that I don’t like to eat. Also, I’ve been living the past couple of years with my brother, a guy who won’t eat “wet leaves,” so now that we’re no longer roommates, I’ve been going to town with wet leaves. About a week ago, I bought some endive. At least I think it’s endive. It’s a variety that isn’t as curly as frissee, but isn’t in a head like Belgian endive. I couldn’t find an exact match in the indespensible tome: Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini (this book was really expensive, but worth every penny. Especially for Asian and Latin American vegetables).
But I went with one of the basic cooking methods described in the book (well, I went with my memory of the basic cooking method, which means part of it was probably in the book, and some of it I made up). Here’s what I did: washed the endive well, it was organic, and a little gritty. Then I cut the leaves in about thirds lenghtwise, so there were big chunks, but so I wouldn’t have long, drippy, stringy leaves at the end. I have a prosciutto end in the freezer that I got somewhere on sale, so I cut about 1/2 inch off of that, and diced it (about 1/3 cup). I covered the bottom of the pan with olive oil, and sauteed the prosciutto with about three cloves of garlic, minced, and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes. When the garlic was just beginning to color, I threw in the wet endive, 1/2 cup of chicken stock, and 1/2 cup of vermouth. I brought the liquids to a boil, then turned the whole thing down to a very low simmer and cooked it for a whopping hour and a half. I kept poking at it about every half hour, but the leaves were still really hard, so I just made sure there was liquid in the pan, and kept braising. Like the cauliflower gratin, I didn’t have much hope for this dish, but it was delicious. The prosciutto and chicken broth and vermouth added a nice smooth depth of flavor that offset the nice bitterness of the greens. I now understand why Southerners cook greens with pork for a long long time. I ate this with some roasted chicken and rice and the bitterness of the greens worked really well with the richness of the chicken and sauce. A new veggie for my repetoire.

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