Chicory In Season
Eat produce when it’s at its best.
Identifying your strand of chicory can be almost as confusing as knowing how to eat it. Clarissa Hyman decodes the vegetable that’s brought bitterness to Europe for centuriesChicory is not an easy vegetable to love. Unless you’re Belgian. Or Italian. It presents a taste challenge as well as a semantic one. Bitterness is not a quality the British particularly appreciate except when it comes to beer, but to a greater or lesser degree it is a common characteristic within the varied and overlapping chicory family.Chicory, endive and escarole are terms often used interchangeably: confused? It’s hardly surprising. The best solution when identifying the type of chicory or endive to which you are referring would be to speak in Latin and have a degree in botany, but failing that you need to have a mental picture of the plant you intend to eat.Cooking witloof brings a surprising transformation. Once plunged into boiling water and blanched, the wilted bulbs become a touch chewy, a touch succulent and a whole lot sensuous. When braised in butter and a little sugar for a tart, they gain a sweet, caramelised edge. One of the best-known cooked dishes is endives au jambon: parboiled witloof wrapped in ham, covered in Gruyère cheese-laced mornay sauce and baked.