A country with distinct Flemish (Dutch) and French influences, including language, it is sometimes said that Belgium serves food with the quantity of Germany and the quality of France.
This popular one-dish meal is a Sunday lunch favorite and is typically made as soon as the first endives of the season come to market (the season runs from September through April). A more elegant variation of this meal is to roast a whole chicken, braise the endives separately, and serve two together. But my favorite has always been to braise the cut-up chicken and endives together in Belgian beer so that they can exchange their complementary bittersweet flavors to make a truly enticing dish. Traditionally this is served with steamed potatoes, and except for some good country bread to mop up the wonderful sauce, you need not serve anything else.
1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Coat with flour and shake off any excess.
2. Heat the butter and oil in a large heavy Dutch oven and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Watch your pot carefully and take care not to burn the butter or the sauce will be bitter. Transfer the chicken pieces to a platter and set aside.
3. Sprinkle the endives with the sugar, add half the lemon juice, and season with salt, peppers, and nutmeg. sauté the endives in the chicken drippings over fairly high heat so that the endives are quickly browned and caramelized on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes. You might have to add a little extra butter to the drippings.
4. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add the beer and arrange the chicken pieces over the vegetables. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
5. Add the creme fraiche and bring to a quick boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. The cooking pieces. The meat should be tender.
6. Check the seasoning and add the remaining lemon juice. Remove the chicken and endives to a warmed platter.
7. Skim as much fat as possible from the sauce and boil over high heat until reduced by about one-third, about 2 minutes. Pour some of the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle generously with freshly chopped parsley. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.
Variations: For special occasions, pheasant, guinea hen, or other game birds can be substituted with equally delicious results.
Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook
by Ruth Van Waerebeek with Maria Robbins
Illustrations by Melissa Sweet
Workman Publishing ISBN: 1-56305-411-6 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0-7611-0106-3 (Cloth)
Reprinted with permission
Belgium on Wikipedia
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This page modified January 2007
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