It's a casserole of pure comfort. First, bitter endive is simmered until sweet, then wrapped in savory ham and smothered with a creamy nutmeg béchamel. Gruyère tops it off before it's baked until bubbly and golden.
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 8 large yellow Belgian Endive, trimmed
- 8 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest ham
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup whole milk, warmed
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1 2/3 cups)
- To cook the endive, combine the butter, sugar, salt, and 10 1/2 cups water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Add the endive, cover, and cook until very tender, about 45 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the endive to paper towels. Reserve 1 1/4 cups cooking liquid. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the endive.
- Wrap each endive with slices of ham. Arrange the endive in a shallow baking dish that holds them snugly; you don't want any space between the endive.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until golden. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture smells nutty, about 2 minutes. Continue whisking and add the milk, then the reserved endive cooking liquid in a slow, steady stream. Bring the mixture to a boil while whisking. Continue whisking until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg and pepper.
- Pour the béchamel over the endive and spread to cover them evenly. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Set the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until bubbly and golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. If you want the top more browned and crusty, broil for a minute or two after baking.