If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m on a mission to get Belgian/Dutch chicory put on the food map in Ireland, as it’s one of my favourite vegetables from back home. Ever since I moved away from Cork city I haven’t been able to find my chicory anymore, as the English market was the only place I had found that was selling these so I would usually just bring them back whenever I went to visit my family. Fast forward to 1,5 years later and I simply couldn’t believe my eyes when I suddenly spotted them in the fruit & veg stall at the local market! I wasn’t sure which recipe to go for first as there are a few I wanted to share with you all but I decided to go with a ham & chicory pie first.
In a way it’s very similar to chicory with ham & cheese sauce in the oven, the big difference is in the sauce as well as of course the addition of the pastry.
Chicory itself then can be bought all year round but the best ones can be found between September/October – April/May so we’re coming up to the end of the higher quality chicory. If you’ve never eaten it before: it is quite bitter, but it all depends on how you cook it as it’s very easy to remove the bitterness from it, by simply removing the bitter core (see recipe). The recipe I wrote up can be made dairy free, but I would avoid using heavily coconut based vegan cheese as the flavours just don’t match that well so try to avoid anything over 25% coconut based vegan cheese.
Serves: 5 people
- 320g shortcrust pastry
- 4 large chicory
- 10 slices of good quality ham
- 400g grated cheese (can be vegan)
- 450ml cream (can be soy cream)
- few knobs of butter (can be sunflower based)
We’re going to start by blind-baking the pastry. Heat up the oven to 200°C, place your pastry on a baking sheet into your pie tin, press all the edges into the tin (if it has ribbed edges) butter up the bottom and pierce it with a fork a couple of times, then place another baking sheet on top. Add ceramic beads or old rice on top and bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges are golden-brown. Remove the beads/rice and the baking paper and pop the pie back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes so that the bottom can get crispy as well.
Meanwhile slice up your chicory in half lengthways, remove the very bottom (only a few mm) and the core of each half as this is the bitter part of the chicory. Slice the remaining pieces up into bite size chunks. Cut up the ham as well and heat up butter in a deep frying pan. Add the chicory first and cook until it softens, then add in the ham and let it cook for a couple more minutes before adding in the cream. Once the cream is in we can add the grated cheese on top and let it melt away. Season with pepper and a few pinches of nutmeg.
Once the pie base is pre-baked, pour the pie filling on top and place back in the oven for another 15 minutes until the cheese starts to get crispy & brown on top. Once the pie is finished you can sprinkle some parsley on top but it’s not necessary.