Char-grilled chicory with blue cheese, honey and hazelnuts
- First put the orange juice and zest, olive oil, honey, leaves from the thyme and the salt and pepper into a big ol mixing bowl and muddle the lot together with a whisk or a fork.
- Cut all the heads of chicory in half down the middle, or quarters if they are big. Wash and dry thoroughly, discarding any tough manky brown leaves.
- Now, if you have one of those funky frying pans with the griddle lines on it then this is your beast. If not, any heavy bottomed fry pan will do.
- Heat the pan to smoking hot then turn down to three quarters heat.
- Place halves or quarters of the chicory on the griddle pan. Dry. No oil. Do not fiddle with it. Allow the cut surface to get a nice brown char on it, flip over and allow the outside to get a little tan. While still hot put straight into the bowl of dressing. The hot leaves will suck it up like a thirsty sponge. Slurp. Do this in batches so as not to over crowd the pan.
- Once all the chicory is in the bowl toss it around a bit and place to one side, still in the dressing. Go have a nice little sherry or something. Come back in twenty minutes or so.
- By now the leaves will have cooled in the dressing and the chicory will have let out its own sexy tasting liquid, mingling with the honey etc.
- Pile all the chicory heads up on a big plate or platter, leaving the dressing in the bowl.
Can't find chicory? You could use heads of little gem lettuce the same way.
Start the meal with a bang and pair this with a bottle of the subtly pink Lindauer Special Reserve NV or the properly rose L'Extra par Langlois Cremant de Loire - both about £10 a botle if you buy 2 at Majestic. No need to tell your guests that you got them on special offer…