Braised chicory with orange, honey and pepper

by admin on April 23, 2009 · 10 comments

Post image for Braised chicory with orange, honey and pepper

One of the side effects of eulogising about seasonal food is that you can’t help feeling a little bit of a fraud writing about vegetables you’ve never eaten. Enter chicory, the one you might know as belgian endive or witloof.  As soon as I had typed the word onto my spring seasonal fruit and veg guide I realised I’d better get my culinary finger out and actually try some.

For some reason we’ve just never gotten round to trying it, probably because of its reputation for bitterness. But the bitter taste isn’t overpowering and makes the perfect foil to a sweet dressing.  Chicory is pretty readily available, though it seems to cause the shops a bit of confusion by not fitting neatly into any of the established groupings of vegetables. In our supermarket the chicory was nestled underneath exotic ginger and chillies from much farther afield.  Despite chicory being in season in the UK at this time of year much of the stuff we buy in the shops is actually grown in France (around Calais). But as Rose Prince points out in her excellent New English Table book “…strictly speaking this is just 20 miles from Kent, so more local to people in the South of England than a Scottish raspberry.”

Orange juice and butter is a classic chicory accompaniment. This braised chicory dish uses olive oil in place of the butter and has a plenty of flavour courtesy of the orange zest and a hint of honey.  We had ours with roast chicken but it would go well with anything that isn’t too overpowering in flavour (pork, fish, a multitude of vegetarian dishes or maybe a grain to soak up the juices).

chicory.jpgSome other side dishes
French beans with almonds
Baby carrots with plums and chilli
Courgette pilaf
Beetroot, sumac and sweet potato salad
Calming lettuce noodles

Recipe for Chicory with orange, honey and pepper

Serves 2 to 4

4 chicory heads
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Juice and zest of half an orange
Black pepper

Heat the oven to 180C/350F.

Trim the bottom from each chicory head and then slice it in half lengthways.

Mix the olive oil, honey, thyme, orange juice and zest together to make the dressing.

Place the chicory in an ovenproof dish and pour over the dressing. Toss the chicory in the dressing to coat evenly.  Season with black pepper.

Cook for 30 minutes, until golden and starting to caramelise.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy April 24, 2009 at 07:32

Love, love, LOVE braised chicory. Often have it for dinner with a piece of baked salmon. Must admit though, I adore what browned butter does to it. Shall indeed try this though.

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Arwen from Hoglet K April 24, 2009 at 10:22

I haven’t tried chicory before either. I love the way you had to do it to avoid hypocrisy, and it sounds like it tastes good too!
Interesting comment about the local eating too. I often find that Product of Australia could do with some narrowing down.

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Johanna April 25, 2009 at 01:37

I have never tried chicory and am not that fond of leaves so don’t have much inclination but I love the way you wrote this post which made me feel a little shamefaced for not trying it at least so now I think maybe I should look out for it (althought sounds like I need to wait a few seasons – phew!)

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kathryn April 25, 2009 at 09:19

Sophie, you’ve made me realise that while I’ve *eaten* chicory, I’ve never actually *cooked* with it. This dish sounds lovely and super-easy. I’m book-marking for when our Spring eventually comes back.

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Sophie April 26, 2009 at 10:54

MMMMMM…I love it!! I adore it!! Yummie food!

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Sophie April 26, 2009 at 10:55

I love it! I adore it!! MMMMMM…..yummie & delicious food!

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Lucy April 27, 2009 at 00:40

Favourite veg, along with fennel. I sometimes braise it on the stovetop with sundried tomato and almonds, sometimes shred it and gently cook it with grain mustard and new potatoes. Even love it raw.
This recipe, naturally, is my idea of heaven, Sophie! Gorgeous. Hooray for trying new things.

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Alex May 7, 2009 at 17:45

Love the pictures – and the sound of the recipe – but can’t believe you haven’t tried it before!

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Mr.Choice May 25, 2009 at 18:32

I am going to try this since it sounds awfully yummy!

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