You can use almost any lettuce, such as chicory, or frisee, or Boston Bib if you are busing large heads, cut them in half. We made these pescartarian because of the shrimp stock, but vegan is easy with vegetable stock, or if serving with beef, a beef stock and bacon. Braised lettuce is a delicious garnish for poultry, white meats such as veal or pork, or steamed white fish. It can be the main accompanied by a warm sweet potato salad.
4 heads Romaine lettuce hearts
4 thick slices of bacon (if making not vegetarian or vegan), cut into lardon strips
1 small onion , diced
2 carrots, diced
1 tablespoon/15g plus 1/2 tablespoon/7 butter divided
1 teaspoon/5ml olive oil
1/2 cup/125ml shrimp or seafood stock (see notes above)
1/2 cup/125ml cup white wine or dry white vermouth
bouquet garni: 1 parsley branch, 1 branch of thyme,1 bay leaf tied to a cheesecloth
½ tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon parsley
Trim stems of lettuce and remove wilted leaves. Clean the lettuce by dipping it in cold water to remove all the sand.
Bring 8 cups/2liters of water to a boil. Add about 3 teaspoons/15ml salt to water when it comes to the boil. Place the lettuce in boiling salted water. When it reaches the boil, lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes until the lettuce has wilted. Remove and dip in cold water for 2-3 minutes. Squeeze each lettuce head gently but firmly to eliminate as much water as possible. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in half crosswise and shape into triangles.
Preheat oven to 350f/176C/Gas 4
Simmer the bacon 4 cups of water for 10 minutes to remove the smoky flavour. Drain, rinse in cold water, and dry.
In a casserole flameproof dish on medium heat add oil, slowly cook the bacon, onions and carrots in the butter until tender but not browned. Remove half the vegetables and bacon and add lettuce to the casserole, so that they're touching each other. Spread the remaining vegetables over the lettuce with bacon on each piece of lettuce.
Pour in the stock and wine to almost cover the lettuce. Add the bouquet garni. Bring to the simmer on the stove. Place the buttered paper over the lettuce, cover the casserole, and set in lower third of preheated oven. Simmer slowly for 1½ hours.
Remove the lettuce and keep it warm. Quickly boil down the braising liquid until it has reduced to a 1/2 cup/125ml and looks syrupy.
Off the heat, swirl in the butter, and strain it over the lettuce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
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