1. Remove any limp outer leaves from the chicory and cut off some of the stalk. Bring the water and a generous pinch of salt to the boil in a large saucepan, add the chicory and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Drain the chicory and leave it to one side until cold.
3. Grease an ovenproof dish with half the butter. Wrap each chicory head in a slice of ham and arrange in the dish.
4. Melt the remaining butter in a small pan, add and cook the flour until golden, then dilute with the white wine and bring to the boil, stirring continuously.
5. Stir the cream into the sauce, season with salt and pepper and pour the sauce over the chicory.
6. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and brown on the middle shelf of a moderately hot oven (200°C, 400°F, gas 6) for about 15 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
Serve with: French or wholemeal bread or parsley potatoes.