Food The Chefs:

Estela The Cookbook – Endive 101

Videography by Tara Sgroi

Photography by Winnie Au

Now we all know it is not nice to play favorites BUT we have also all learned to always tell the truth AND the simple truth is this — Chef Ignacio Mattos is without doubt, ahem, my favorite chef.

Each and every time I take a singular bite of his food an explosion of flavor erupts on my palette and boom, I am transported. The thing is, as that monumental burst occurs there is a simultaneous profound realization that this intense flavor is the culmination of simplicity and restraint by the hand of the chef. The way Ignacio preserves the integrity of so few ingredients is incredibly impactful on the palate — every ingredient is experienced in precisely the way Ignacio intended you to taste it. Truly graceful and downright sexy. So, while favorites is a game we were taught never to play, giving praise where praise is due superseded niceties in my book.

Estela is Ignacio’s baby, his first-born restaurant. So, it seems fitting that Estela would be his first cookbook (which was released earlier this week) and the very reason we cooked together. While we are on firsts — my inaugural endeavor to Estela had me swooning in more ways than one. Of course, the food had me at the very first bite but our beloved former President also happened to be dining at Estela sooooo there was THAT!

The cover star of this newly released tome depicts Ignacio’s famed endive salad. The perfect cover girl that embodies Ignacio’s style of cooking. Bold, bright, playful — and with a little umami surprise hidden at the bottom! This textural element of surprise is something Ignacio expertly executes in so many of his dishes and discusses in the video above, as he takes us through this divine recipe and gives us a lesson in Endive 101.

Endive Salad with Walnuts and Ubriaco Rosso

Chef Ignacio Mattos


Serves 4-6

For the Vinaigrette
2 garlic cloves
4 large anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons garnacha vinegar
¼ cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
Cracked black pepper

For the Granola
1 ½ cups (50g) ½-inch cubes of day-old sourdough (you want a few pieces with some dark crust)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 cup (100g) walnuts
Freshly gorund black pepper
Chile flakes
1/3 cup (40g) irregular pieces (¼ – ½ -inch Pecorino Duro) Ubriaco Rosso
Scant 1/3 cup (about 35g) irregular pieces ( ¼ – ½ -inch Pecornio Duro)

For the endives
4 endives
Kosher salt
1 medium orange
1 tablespoon chardonnay vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil


Make the vinaigrette:

Pound the garlic cloves into a paste in a mortar with the pestle.

Add the anchovies and pound until everything is fairly smooth but still slightly chunky.

Add the vinegar, olive oil, and cracked black pepper to taste and mix to combine.

The idea is to get a broken vinaigrette with pieces of anchovy still visible.

Make the granola:

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C)

Put the bread cubes on a baking sheet and toss with a few teaspoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt, then spread them out.

Spread the nuts out on a separate baking sheet. Toast the bread and walnuts in the oven, tossing them every few minutes.

Remove the nuts once they are dark and well roasted, about 8 minutes.

Remove the bread once it’s dark brown and toasted all the way through, about 10 minutes.

While the nuts are still warm, put them in a mortar, add a teaspoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a few generous cranks of black pepper, and a pinch of chile flakes and crush them into coarse chunks with the pestle.

Using the bottom of a heavy pan, crush the bread cubes into chunks between ¼ and ½ inch. (With each component, you want a mix of textures and sizes.)

Combine the croutons, walnuts, and cheeses in a medium bowl. Dress with the vinaigrette, mixing well.

Let sit while you prepare the endives so the croutons get a little softer and the flavors come together.

Prepare the endives:

Cut an inch off the bottom of each endive and discard.

Gently peel back the leaves, continuing to trim the root as you go, until you get to the core (it’s the sweetest part of the endive).

Cut each core in half lengthwise, or into quarters if it’s large, and toss them into the bowl.

To serve, season the endives with a generous pinch of salt.

Grate the zest of the orange evenly over the top of the endives, then halve the orange and squeeze the juices over the leaves.

Add the vinegar and gently toss the leaves to coat, as you don’t want them to bruise.

Spread the granola mixture evenly on two plates.

Arrange the endive leaves on top so that they make little cups for the dressing.

Sprinkle with salt, spoon on the orange juice mixture left in the bottom of the bowlm and drizzle on abit of olive oil.

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