Endive, Venison and Cheese Gratin

While out grocery shopping, we often like to pick up one or two items that we've never tried before. This time around, we chose Belgian endives, which has the texture of cabbage when cooked but are also pleasantly bitter. You won't find them at all grocery stores because they are still fairly "exotic" in the United States. Specialty stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods will most likely carry them, but I found these at a Target in Lincoln. If you get the chance to buy them, we hope you will give this recipe a try. It's our version of a French endive gratin.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
- 1/2 pound of ground venison
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 4 Belgian endives
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1 1/2 cups of milk, heated
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/2 cup of Swiss or Gruyere cheese, shredded and divided, plus extra for sprinkling
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 slices of prosciutto
- grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
- cooking spray or butter for greasing baking dish
-  1 teaspoon of fresh parsley, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground venison and brown. Season with freshly ground black pepper and a light pinch of salt. Keep in mind all the salt that's already in the prosciutto and cheeses.Set aside.
2. Cut off woody bottoms of endives, then cut endives in half lengthwise.
3. Grease a baking dish with cooking spray or butter. 

Then top endives with some venison and sprinkle with some shredded Swiss or Gruyere. This may be a little tricky. 
Then wrap each with prosciutto and lay them in the baking dish in one layer. 

The prosciutto may want to rip when you wrap the endives. If you don't want to deal with the trouble, simply lay the endives in the baking dish, then layer with ground venison, cheese and then prosciutto. 
4. To make the cheese sauce, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Then whisk in heated milk and allow mixture to cook and thicken, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn off heat and stir in 1/4 cup of shredded cheese and garlic powder.

Pour cheese sauce over endives in the baking dish. Then sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and some grated Parmesan cheese, to taste. 

5. Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degrees F oven for 25 minutes.
Then uncover and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded cheese. Raise the heat to 400 degrees F and cook uncovered for 10 more minutes, or until the cheese turns golden. 
Allow endives to cool a little before serving. They will be HOT. Sprinkle chopped parsley over the top and enjoy! 

This dish is heartier than it looks.


  1. "Pleasantly bitter"? Those words don't go together for food - only beer. A good gratin does gratify me though.


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