Last week my random cooking journey took me to The Gourmet Cookbook, one of the more encyclopedic of the works we own. It was a busy week, so I chose a simple recipe, but an unusual, old-fashioned one. Apparently dressing room-temperature lettuce in a warm butter sauce used to be a Thing (though the cookbook doesn't specify how long ago), which was enough to make my inner historical re-enactor want to come out to play.
Bibb Lettuce with Butter Dressing
- 4 heads Bibb lettuce or 1 head boston lettuce, at room temperature, leaves separated and torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 stick (4 T) unsalted butter
- 1 garlic clove, halved lengthwise
- 4 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Scant 1/2 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
(Note that having the lettuce at room temperature is key--if it's refrigerator-cold, the butter will solidify once you pour it over the lettuce, which wouldn't be very appetizing.)
Put lettuce in a large bowl. Melt butter in a small heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden and butter has a slight nutty aroma, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, discard garlic, and add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste, swirling skillet to incorporate; butter will foam.
Pour warm dressing over lettuce and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
This dish was...interesting. It didn't taste bad by any means, and I can imagine in the hands of master chef with a subtle hand for flavoring that it might be made into something special with an addition of just one or two more flavors. That said, I doubt I'll make it again. I do love to experiment, but I'm sufficiently of my own place and time that I like my salads cold.