At this time of year, there typically isn’t a lot growing, and there definitely isn’t much growing on our plot just yet. The “hungry gap” as its known is less of an issue for most people these days as supermarkets are still able to stock most fruit and vegetables throughout the winter. However, if you’re looking to live off the land or at least align better with the seasons, it can feel like slim pickings. The stored potatoes and root veg are pretty depleted after the winter months and you might be starting to be sick of the sight of frozen soup or pickles.
A ray of hope is forced Witloof chicory. You can grow it through the summer for its green dandelion-like leaves, and then in the autumn you can cut the foliage right down leaving just a couple of centimetres above the roots. Then you lift the roots and store in a cool place until ready for forcing. At this point you plant the roots indoors in compost and cover with a dark bucket or bin with no holes to let the light in. This forces the chicons to grow and after a month you can harvest the crunchy, white gems. I’m looking forward to having a go at forcing chicory this year.
This recipe is another simple one, but it is incredibly versatile and open to interpretation (well any of my recipes are I suppose). I love eating this as a snack or appetiser and I think it’s the perfect way to celebrate and savour the crunchy, slightly bitter but oh so fresh chicory. Don’t get me wrong, I love the combination with blue cheese, but sometimes I’m looking for something a bit more pared back. I feel like this recipe does that without losing any of the indulgence.
Jersey cream is lovely and thick, with a naturally sweet flavour that complements the chicory really well. I like to cut the chicons into wedges to dip into the cream, but you could turn this into a lovely salad by separating the leaves and drizzling with the cream and some chopped almonds. It’s completely up to you!
Do you have a favourite chicory recipe? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Chicory with Jersey Cream Dip Recipe
- 4 baby chicory/endive “chicons”
- 100 ml Jersey double cream
- Generous pinch sea salt
- Generous pinch black pepper
- Honey to drizzle
- Mix the Jersey cream with the salt and pepper, taste and adjust the quantities as needed, and pour into a ramekin or bowl to serve. Drizzle generously with honey.
- Cut each of the baby chicory “chicons” into four wedges and serve with the cream dip.