Endive and Ham Gratin (also known as Chicon Au Gratin or Gegratineerde Witloof) is a classic Belgian dish: it is simple to cook and nutritious to eat. Ideally, the dish should be cooked using only domestic ingredients—endives (or chicory), local cheese and ham. Since endives are the main ingredient of Chicon Au Gratin, the dish is mainly served during the winter season when endives are in season in Belgium, namely September to May. They may also be substituted with chicory.
As both vegetables have a fairly bitter taste, the preparation of the dish begins by simmering endives (chicory) until most of the bitterness is removed. Boiled heads of endives are then wrapped in ham slices, arranged in the gratin dish, spooned over with cheese sauce and baked.
Some chefs choose to add beer to the cheese sauce, while some omit the ham and others opt to serve the dish with mashed potatoes, etc. Even though the recipes of Chicon Au Gratin vary, the dish remains one of the staples of the Belgian cuisine.
If you're keen on greens and culinary, you may appreciate a private cooking class by an experienced chef in the centre of Brussels. A professional cook will introduce you to iconic endives, as well as other vegetables cultivated in Belgium.