This salad is fabulous served with roast chicken. You can use it to create a really easy meal by buying a roast chicken, and then just adding fresh lemon to the salad: it makes a great starter or main.
4 witlof, brown outer leaves removed
1 medium leek, ends removed
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
4 rashers rindless back bacon, finely diced
2 small peeled eschalots, finely chopped
2 peeled garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups fresh chicken stock
1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 fresh bay leaf
freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup single cream
100g gruyère, finely grated
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
CUT WITLOF IN HALF lengthways. Using only the white and light green parts of the leek, split it lengthways, then vertically cut in half to about the same length as the witlof.
MELT BUTTER WITH OIL in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add witlof and leek and cook until starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Remove and reserve.
ADD BACON, ESCHALOTS, garlic, salt and half the thyme to the pan. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes, until bacon begins to crisp, then deglaze with wine. Stir through stock, mustard, bay leaf and pepper, then the witlof and leeks.
Bring to a boil, then simmer for 8-10 minutes until witlof and leeks are cooked but still firm. Remove witlof and leeks. Increase heat to high, add cream and reduce sauce for a few minutes. Remove bay leaf, return witlof and leeks, warm through.
MIX GRUYÈRE, breadcrumbs and remaining thyme. Sprinkle mixture over dish, then grill until golden brown.
Tip: Add some parmesan to the cheese mix on the gratin to create extra character.
Serving suggestion: Serve with Neil Perry's tarragon roast chicken.
Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.