Tuesday 10 July 2007

Recipe: Braised Lettuce

You need a soft-leafed lettuce for this recipe, but something which has a nice dense heart. A Butterhead does very well. Kos is the wrong shape, and too woody, and Icebergs are both too crisp, and anyway completely lacking in flavour (I don't quite see the point of iceberg lettuce, I have to confess...)

For Four.

Ingredients: 4 medium sized Lettuces; 1 medium Carrot; 1 stick of Celery; 100g Lardons; half an ounce of butter; 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil; half a cup of Chicken Stock; Salt & Pepper.


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C

2. Bring a large pan of generously salted water to the boil. Once boiling, add the Lettuces - all together if your pan is large enough, otherwise you'll have to do this stage in batches.

3. Blanch the Lettuces for about five minutes, until they have visibly wilted, and they just start to give out that wonderful mineral aroma. As soon as they reach this stage, remove them with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of iced water.

4. One the Lettuces are cool, remove them from the water, gently squeeze them dry and put into a colander to drain thoroughly.

5. Heat the Oil and Butter together in a small saucepan, then saute the Lardons until they begin to brown. Finely dice both the Carrot and the Celery and add these to the pan; saute gently for a further five minutes.

6. Butter a small oven proof dish, and distribute half of the Carrot-Celery-Lardon mixture over the base. Slice each head of Lettuce in half (from base to tip), and fold each half in on itself (tip to base) to make each half-Lettuce into a neat, plump cushion. Place these 'cushions' on top of the Carrot-Celery-Lardon mixture in the dish, and distribute the remaining Carrot-Celery-Lardon mixture over the top.

7. Lightly season with Salt & Pepper, then add the Chicken stock to the dish. Cover with foil, and place in the pre-heated oven for half an hour.


Joanna said...

Delicious - your recipe is a little more elaborate than mine, so I'll try this ... I always love that "one in the eye for the vegetarians" feeling I get when putting really good home-made chicken stock into a predominantly vegetable dish (although I'm not so mean as not to warn any that bravely venture here). It's a timely reminder, because two perfect braising lettuces arrived in the box this morning.


Pomiane said...

What is your version? Mine is already a pared-down version of the late-great Julia's, where I've severely reduced the liquid content and removed all the stuff about bringing it to a simmer on the stove before putting it in the oven. We talked about it over lunch today, and could only conclude that her version was taken from a restaurant method, where a lot would have been being cooked at one time, and the stages are unnecessary for domestic scale.

Joanna said...

Sorry, only just discovered this query ... I know I've blogged the braised lettuce, but can only find braised fennel at the moment: http://joannasfood.blogspot.com/2007/03/braised-fennel.html

Basically, I do the same to lettuce ... horribly easy, so yours is definitely better and I shall try it - I'm afraid my daughter got to last week's braising lettuces and made a salad before I could whip out a saucepan!