This witlof gratin is perfect as a light meal or a decadent side dish. Pair it with our poulet rôti au estragon (roast tarragon chicken).






Skill level

Average: 3.6 (6 votes)


  • 4 large (about 800 g) witlof, outer leaves removed, trimmed
  • 750 ml (3 cups) chicken stock
  • bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, stalks reserved
  • 1 lemon, zested, juiced
  • 180 g speck (see Note), rind removed, cut into lardons
  • 35 g (½ cup) fresh breadcrumbs
  • 25 g (⅓ cup) finely grated Parmesan
  • 200 ml thickened cream

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Place witlof in a single layer in a large saucepan. Add 250 ml (1 cup) water, stock, parsley stalks, lemon zest and juice, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a cartouche with a small hole cut in the centre, then cover with a lid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until witlof is tender when pierced with a skewer. Cool, then cut witlof in half lengthwise and place, slightly overlapping, cut-side up, in a single layer in a large roasting pan.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over medium–high heat and cook speck for 6 minutes or until golden. Turn off heat, then using a slotted spoon, remove speck from pan and set aside. Add breadcrumbs and toss in the fat in the pan to coat. Transfer to a bowl, cool, then stir in parmesan and chopped parsley.

Scatter speck over witlof and pour over cream. Season, scatter over breadcrumb mixture, then bake for 10 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden. Serve immediately.


• Speck is German-style smoked bacon from selected delis and butchers.


Photography by Brett Stevens.

As seen in Feast magazine, Sept 2011, Issue 1.