Originally from Amsterdam, Chef Hidde Zomer has worked at some of Amsterdam and Toronto’s top restaurants including De Kas, Nota Bene and Carbon Bar. More recently, Chef Hidde moved to Prince Edward County to open Flame + Smith, a sustainably-minded, Feast On-certified restaurant that embraces the exciting art of woodfire cooking and the supporting community that surrounds it.
“I have many fond memories of this classic Dutch dish. My mother used to make this often as a casserole. It’s great served family style on a midweek day and perfect as a side dish paired with a Sunday roast. I love the caramelized cheese and crispy ham paired with the slightly bitterness from the endives.”
Mornay Sauce Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) for convection oven (or 375°F for still gas oven) while you start making the mornay sauce as this will take about 15 minutes.
In a 1-quart, heavy-bottom sauce pot on low heat, melt (but do not brown) the butter. Add the flour and mix using a spatula until all is well incorporated (it should have the consistency of a soft cake batter).
Cook the roux gently for 5 minutes on low heat stirring every minute or so to prevent browning.
Heat the milk separately in a small sauce pot with the aromatics (bay leaf, peppercorn, thyme, onion and garlic) and steep for 5 minutes at a low simmer.
Strain the milk through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids.
Incorporate the hot milk slowly (a small ladle at a time) into the pot with the cooked roux, stirring vigorously with a spatula or small whisk until all the milk is incorporated into the roux.
Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously to prevent the bottom of the pot from burning.
Next, whisk in the grated cheeses and continue to cook for a few minutes.
Season with kosher salt to taste.
Using a sharp paring knife, cut the endives in half lengthwise and remove a little of the brown bottom part of the heads.
Lay out the slices of ham on a clean counter or baking tray and wrap each endive piece into the ham.
Take a casserole dish and spread out some of the mornay sauce, about an inch deep over the bottom.
Lay the ham-wrapped endives in the casserole dish and add a touch more mornay on top.
Sprinkle the grated cheeses on top and place in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. When ready, the cheese and ham should have that beautiful golden-brown colour, the sauce should be bubbling and it should have that fantastic aroma of caramelized ham and cheese. You can use the broil setting on your oven to create a deeper coloured, caramelized crust if needed.