Witloff has a refreshingly bitter taste but this pretty much disappears during boiling.
It is eaten raw in salads, often with apples to offset the bitterness, or cooked, such as in this filling oven dish with ham, cheese and mashed potatoes.... Read more.
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees C
Cut about 1 cm off the bottom of each head of chicory and then cut a cone of about the same length into the stem. This is the bitter centre that can be discarded. (A bit like the heart of a lettuce)
In a large saucepan, bring salted water to the boil and boil the chicory for about 5 minutes. Drain, but keep 300 ml of the cooking water.
Boil, drain and mash potatoes with the milk and 20 g of the butter.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter, carefully stir in the flour until you have a smooth paste and slowly add the cooking water. Mix in most of the cheese, leaving enough to sprinkle on the top.
Wrap each piece of chicory in a slice of ham and put in a large, deep oven-proof dish.
Pour in the stock, then spoon on the cheese sauce.
Cover with the mashed potato and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Serve hot as a meal in itself or with a steamed, green vegetable.
When buying chicory, look for heads that have smooth, white leaves and a yellow tip. Store in a cool place and eat within a day or two of buying. .
Tip: This dish is also delicious without the ham. Use vegetable instead of meat stock.
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