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.
For 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
Preheat the oven to 350°
Cook the lettuce:
- Blanch the lettuces in boiling salted water for barely a minute and drain it.
- Drop them into an ovenproof dish just big enough to hold them with the stock and bake for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile make its sauce:
- Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, amalgamate the flour with a whisk and slowly add the milk, whisking constantly.
- Let the mixture thicken and boil, then stir in the cheese and recduce the heat to the merest simmer: It should not boil again.
- Season with salt, pepper and cayenne.
- 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:
- Drain the lettuces, return them to their baking dish and cover them in the sauce.
- Bake the sauced lettuce for 10 minutes more and serve.
-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.