At this time of the year the chicories that I have been enjoying all through the winter are starting to get a little big and too bitter to be eaten raw. Actually what happens is that the chicories cut for salads sprout new tender leaves and so these I use for salads, and then other chicories get left and get too big.
After a lot of effort is put in to grow something, it cannot be wasted.
When I was in Sicily a couple of years ago, I was served cold spicy cooked chicories as part of a mixed starter and it was delicious and is the inspiration for this recipe.
This method works well for the pale Belgian chicories as well as lettuce that have grown large.
4 large heads of Chicory – washed and outer leaves removed
60 ml olive oil
60 ml balsamic vinegar
150-200 ml chicken stock
Large pinch of chilli flakes – to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cutting top to bottom, cut the heads of chicory in half.
Warm the oil in a shallow thick based pan that will take the chicories in one layer. Once the oil is hot add the chicories, cover and fry gently until browned.
Turn the chicories over and fry on the other side, again until browned.
Add the balsamic vinegar, chilli flakes and season with salt and pepper.
Add just enough stock to almost come to the top of the chicory layer.
Leave to cook slowly for 10 minutes.
Turn over the chicories. The liquid should have reduced. If you think that it is too dry, add a little more stock but go easy.
Continue cooking until the chicories are cooked and tender and the liquid reduced to very little.
Serve either as a vegetable with a main course, or cold as part of a mixed starter, or as a pizza topping with some goats cheese.