Sunday, March 8, 2009

Wilted Lettuce Salad

Y’all, I’ve been too busy today finishing up the flower bed cleanup to think of anything substantial to write. So here is our first recipe. I think it’s fitting, because in early springtime, I start thinking about planting lettuce, which is always the first thing to harvest (along with radishes of course). This is the perfect dressing for your first harvest of leaf lettuce.

This is the standard salad we used to have at my Grandma Renner’s back when I was a goofy kid in the seventies. This is what she made for her family during the Depression. This is how people dressed their salads before you could just go to the store and buy ranch or thousand island or Catalina or green goddess.

When I was a kid, thousand island dressing was what we had at home. But we always had this at Grandma’s. It always tasted weird to me, but you know what? I liked it okay then, and I love it today.

The biggest requirement is: Use fresh, leafy salad greens, such as green leaf lettuce that you picked this morning. Please don’t use iceberg; it won’t wilt right, and its flavor is all wrong. So: green or red leaf lettuce, or possibly buttercrunch or Bibb.

This is so simple. Step one is to rinse and dry the leaf lettuce and tear it into pieces. Put it in a serving bowl. Then make the dressing by heating together the following:

  • 1/3 c. vinegar (by this we mean apple cider vinegar—all “Grandma recipes” use apple cider vinegar: you think she was goin’ out and buyin’ balsamic or red wine vinegar in Jeff City in 1936?)
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • couple dashes of pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp. bacon grease
That’s right, bacon grease. Grandma kept a jar of it on her kitchen counter. She had bacon every morning (and struggled with high cholesterol and yet lived to be nearly 101), and she saved her drippings. I’m only now beginning to appreciate that. (I keep my little vial of drippings in the fridge.) In this recipe, you must use bacon grease. Don’t bother with it if you’re thinking about using something else. Don’t invite me over to have any, if you’re making it with olive oil. I got nothing against olive oil, but in this recipe, it’s gotta be bacon grease.

So you have your dressing all warmed up in a little saucepan, and then you drizzle that right over the lettuce. Then, serve it immediately (before it gets too wilted). I think you’ll agree this is really good. (And you won’t need any bacon bits, either.)

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