Cooking With Chicory: The Dos And Don’ts

Chicory is an herb related to endive and radicchio. You can use the tops as salad vegetables, or you can saute them. You can also prepare the roots and use them as an additive for coffee. Chicory root is essential when making New Orleans-style coffee, which may be made entirely with the root or using a blend of regular coffee and chicory. The greens are a popular ingredient for classical European cooking and are especially popular in France and England. This herb is versatile but can be tricky to use. When using chicory, follow the tips below for the best results.

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Do prepare your chicory root properly if you are going to use it to make coffee.

Good preparation means that you will have to dry and roast your chicory before brewing it for chicory coffee. One way to prepare it is to first slice the chicory root into small pieces that you will then dry in the sun or a food dehydrator. You will want the pieces to be as small as possible to ensure that your coffee grinder can handle them.

Next, you want to roast it in a moderately hot oven (about 350 degrees) for a few hours. You can then grind the pieces of the root in much the same way that you would grind coffee beans. The next step is to brew your ground chicory in a standard coffee pot or French press.

Do add chicory in a 4:1 ratio when using it to dilute coffee.

This ratio should be your starting point. You can add or decrease the amount of chicory in your blend, depending on your preference.

Do add less chicory root when using it as a coffee substitute.

Chicory is more water soluble when compared to coffee, which means that it can go a long way.

Do cook chicory greens to make them less bitter.

Cooking mix chicory greens sweeter and mellower, in addition to giving them a softer texture.

Do add chicory root to your baked goods to make them healthier.

Chicory root is rich in a fiber called inulin. Inulin is added to many well-known packaged foods to be sold as high-fiber items. It adds fiber without affecting the food item’s flavor or texture, unlike other fiber sources. Fiber is an important nutrient that can help to regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol levels.

You can extract inulin from chicory root simply by heating dried chicory root in water using a microwave. The inulin will precipitate out of the chicory root into the water.

Do halve or quarter the heads of chicory when grilling them.

Grilling softens the outer leaves while leaving the inner leaves crisp. It also gives the chicory greens a smoky flavor. A light coating with extra virgin olive oil can enhance the flavor and speed up the softening process.

Do chop chicory greens if you plan to steam them.

Chopping shortens the cooking time and ensures that all the leaves have a similar soft consistency.

Don’t drink chicory coffee if what you want is caffeine.

Chicory is caffeine-free, although when brewed, it can look like very strong coffee. Chicory is used only to lower the cost and caffeine content of coffee without detracting from the flavor, not to add to its stimulating effects.