We are a family of meat lovers. But as much as we all agree on a beautiful steak, opinions are somewhat divided when it comes to the sides. For my kids, the emphasis of “steak frites” lies on the latter part anyway, my husband is fine as long a the wine is, while I usually need a little sidekick, a simple dollop of grainy mustard, a Béarnaise, some red wine shallots, or, my favorite for the colder season, a sizzling pan of endives braisées. Caramelized in butter and brown sugar, the silky leaves will melt in your mouth, adding an incomparable touch of bittersweetness that goes wonderfully with an entrecôte or any pan seared cut of beef (and some seafood, too).
A few days ago, I craved those endives, and in an attempt to turn them into a full meal, I layered them with chestnuts and roquefort cheese, and covered everything with a flaky shortcrust pastry. The result is a hearty, wholesome autumn tarte Tatin, ready to take center stage on the table, and rich enough to comfort you after a walk through rustling golden leaves. Inevitably having meat in the back of my carnivore´s mind (and with the most beautiful filet in the refrigerator), I felt tempted to serve the tart with a small (just a small!) steak on the side. It really turns a rich meal over the top, reserved for a very big appetite, I admit, and arises the question what´s main and what´s side here – but that´s a question that for now must remain unanswered.
Endives, roquefort and chestnut tarte Tatin:
220 g flour
120 g butter
1/2 tsp fine salt
1-3 tbsp cold water
Combine flour with cold, cubed butter, salt and egg. When the mixture starts to come together, add water, 1 tbsp at a time, until a homogenous, firm, elastic dough has formed (perhaps you will need 1 tbsp, perhaps a bit more). Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 60 minutes or over night.
4 endives, halved lengthwise, strunk removed, leaves plucked
40 g unsalted butter
2 tbsp brown sugar (Cassonade)
1 tsp thyme
about 75 g of roquefort cheese, crumbled
125 g cooked chestnuts*
* You can used precooked chestnuts, but I recommend to cook them yourself: Incise the skin crosswise, then cook in salted boiling water for 25-30 minutes. Drain water, wait until slightly cooled, then peel outer and inner “furry” skin.
In a large frying pan, melt butter with sugar over medium heat. When the sugar starts to melt (after 1-2 min), add endives and thyme. Stirring frequently, cook them until softened and covered with caramel all over, about 10 minutes, over medium to medium high heat. Be sure not to overheat (or the caramel will burn and taste bitter), and not to underheat either, (or the endives (and tart, consecutively) will end up being soggy). Season with salt and a little black pepper.
Roll out the dough and cut out a circle slightly (about 2-3 cm) larger than the diameter of your baking dish. Use remaining dough for making savory cookies, e.g. sprinkled with cheese, sesame seeds, poppy seeds…
Preheat oven 180°C/350 °F.
Butter a round baking mould. Arrange the endives neatly, crumble cheese all over. Proceed with chunks of cooked chestnuts. Cover with dough, tuck the edges firmly. Prick with a fork all over. Bake for 30 minutes, until slightly golden.
Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes. Cover mould with the serving plate, flip over and serve (it can happen that some endives stick to the pan – just rearrange, it´s not a problem).