- (How hungry are you?) No-nitrate Bacon
- (1 head of lettuce) Romaine Heart
- (1/2 is plenty if you’re eating the peel ) Organic Orange
- (Sprinkling) Salt
- Cracked Pepper
I kid you not. I am preparing this for my lunch as I type. I had bumped into the concept of cooking lettuce several times over the span of a few years in my perusal of the NYTimes cooking section - Grilled Romaine and Lettuce Soup specifically. The idea was mildly off-putting so I never went out of my way to try it. Enter Winter, 2018 - the ‘Bomb Cyclone’ and all that - and the pale looking Romaine Hearts in my fridge seemed a worthy sacrifice. I put a pan on medium-high heat, dropped some butter in and while I waited for it to sizzle, I sliced the entire romaine heart long ways down the center and put the two halves face down in the pan. I did nothing as it began to crackle. I waited as it snapped. I didn’t change course. I leaned into the discomfort that inevitably rises to the surface when you sear things at high heat. Finally when the edges were well browned and the pan began to smoke I turned off the heat and lifted them gently onto a nearby plate. A light sprinkling of salt was adequate adornment. They were incredible. Caramel flavors! Artichoke notes! They were crunchy while also supple. The best part was that I had no trouble eating an entire head by myself and could take comfort knowing that one of my winter day meals had an adequate vegetable component.
Slice a Romaine Heart long ways down the center rending it in two beautiful halves.
Slice the No-nitrate Bacon into pieces (or don’t). Sauté in a pan over medium-low heat until you’re satisfied with how done they are, but please don’t over-do this. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. You may want to remove some of the rendered fat from the pan. You may want to remove all of it and use butter instead. Your choice, but make sure there is a good layer of fat before adding the Romaine.
Turn the heat up to medium-high. Place the halved Romaine hearts in the pan, adjusting them to make sure they are lying flat. Let them cook face down without disturbing them until you can’t stand it anymore. They should be caramelized and brown around the edges and the pan will likely be smoking. Turn on your overhead fan or open a window. Plate the Romaine Hearts and sprinkle each half with a little salt and cracked pepper.
Scatter the cooked bacon over the lettuce in the most delightful way you can. Slice half of an organic orange into wedges and add that to the plate. For a real culinary encounter, use a knife and fork to eat the flesh of the orange with its peel as you contentedly consume everything else.
The photo above features a plate by Simon Levin