The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.53
SUMMER2017

Lettuce with cheese sauce

The Hon. Margaret April Irene Agnew-Somerville, co-heiress to the fifth Lord Strange, contributed this recipe to Rodie Tinne’s Irish Countryhouse Cooking (New York 1974). Cooked lettuce is a refreshing dish, enriched in this case with a classic cheeses sauce, that seldom finds its way to American tables. Four substantial sides.

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lettuce078.jpgFor the lettuce:

-4 heads of Boston (or cos in the UK) lettuce
-½ cup chicken stock

For its sauce:

-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-2 Tablespoons flour (preferably Wondra
-10 oz milk
-about ½ cup grated Cheddar or other hard Britsh cheese (but see the Notes)
-about ¼ cup grated Parmesan
-salt & white pepper
-cayenne


Preheat the oven to 350°

Cook the lettuce:

  1. Blanch the lettuces in boiling salted water for barely a minute and drain it.
  2. Drop them into an ovenproof dish just big enough to hold them with the stock and bake for 20 minutes.

 

Meanwhile make its sauce:

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, amalgamate the flour with a whisk and slowly add the milk, whisking constantly.
  2. Let the mixture thicken and boil, then stir in the cheese and recduce the heat to the merest simmer: It should not boil again.
  3. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne.
  4. Stir a little of the cooking stock from the finished lettuce into the sauce to dilute it to your preferred consistency.

 

To serve the dish:

  1. Drain the lettuces, return them to their baking dish and cover them in the sauce.
  2. Bake the sauced lettuce for 10 minutes more and serve.

 

Notes:

-Use the dish as you would steamed spinach, chard or Chinese cabbage (Chinese leaves in the UK)

-For something lighter, bake the cooked lettuce for 25 minutes and serve it without the sauce.

-Mrs. Agnew-Somerville specifies Gruyere, not Cheddar.

-Her daughter Geraldine played Lilly Potter, Harry’s doomed mother in the film series.