Endives and ham ‘au gratin’ and cantankerous journalists

I keep reading articles in the English-speaking press about how miserable the French are at the moment and that morale has never been lower. I can’t help feeling that this is no more than a bit of misguided wishful-thinking on the part of ill-humoured hacks (I’m talking about you, Toby Young), but let me nonetheless reassure everyone that however down-at-mouth the French are, they still know how to eat…

This is a deliciously light and good-humoured dish to serve with a side salad and a wide grin 🙂

Ingredients (serves 4)

8 endives

8 slices ham

200g of grated hard cheese (I use ComtĂ©, but you could use Cheddar or Gruyère…)

For the gluten-free béchamel sauce :

30g chickpea flour

15g butter

2 tablespoons’ olive oil

250ml milk

200ml vegetable stock

1 tablespoon mustard

Seasoning to taste: sea salt, black pepper, nutmeg

Boil or steam the endives until cooked (about 15 minutes in salted boiling water or 8 minutes in a steamer). Preheat the oven to 220°C. Once cooked, drain well and try to press out any remaining water. Wrap each endive in a slice of ham and lay in a baking dish.

To make the bĂ©chamel sauce, melt the butter and heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the flour to the butter/oil mixture and stir rapidly with a whisk until you obtain a mousse-like mixture. Add the liquid (stock and milk) little by little, whisking vigourously to avoid lumpiness. Keep whisking and adding liquid over a gentle heat until there is none left and the sauce thickens slightly – you are aiming for a smooth, glossy, creamy pouring sauce. Add the mustard and the seasoning and leave to heat for a further five minutes over a very low heat, whisking from time-to-time.

Pour the sauce over the ham-wrapped endives and add the grated cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes until bubbling and golden-brown.

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