This past Thursday, I was talking to one of my gas traders, Terry, about something. Oh, now I remember, we were talking about the peanut butter bacon cookies and the fact that I saved the bacon grease in the refrigerator. Then he started talking about his grandpa, who taught him how to cook some lettuce with bacon grease when he was very young. Terry’s grandpa would heat up some bacon grease, then he would put red lettuce leaves in the heated pan with the bacon grease. He then turned the leaves over and let them sit in the pan for a quick moment, just to get it wilted. Then he would sprinkle the wilted lettuce leaves with some vinegar and sugar, and Terry swore that it was really good. I never heard of this dish and was intrigued by it.
So when I got home that night, I Googled it real quick, and there were a bunch of entries about this Wilted Lettuce Thingy. We were having smoked chicken that night, so I figured, why not. I would cook up some lettuce for the side dish instead of salad. I had red leaf lettuce, bacon grease, and for a good measure, I had some frozen cooked bacon too!
As I was typing this post, I Googled some more trying to find more information about this dish, or side dish. I had an inclination that it is a Southerner dish. My other gas trader, Michael, he also mentioned he grew up with this dish. Then I found at least 2 sites that mentioned that the origin of this dish is actually Germany. One site actually said that the name was “Killed Lettuce“.
So, I contacted my Indonesian friend in Laboe, Germany, to do some research about this dish. She said she had made something similar before, but mentioned that her German mother-in-law did not know about such dish. Since she is of Chinese origin, and Chinese is known for the stir fry vegetables, I thought that maybe the origin of this wilted lettuce is China rather than Germany? Ha ha… I was thinking that maybe I was on to something here… Except, after further digging, lettuce is actually originated from Egypt. The Romans then cultivated it and brought it to France. Learn more about lettuce here. So, so much for the Chinese origin for the Wilted Lettuce. So, in conclusion, there is no conclusion of the origin of this dish. I will let the people out there who have more patience and detective skills to do more research about this dish.
So back to my kitchen. I pulled out the sugar, vinegar, frozen bacon, bacon grease and the red leaf lettuce.
I heated my frying pan, and put in a dollop of the bacon grease.
Then after it was heated up – check the heat by hovering your hand on top of the pan. You will know if it is hot. You will also know if it is too hot, because by then your pan will be making some smoke and your smoke alarm went off and scared the heck out of your cats.
Then I dumped the washed and patted dry lettuce leaves, and made sure some or most of the leaves were heated through.
Then I flipped them real quick, and by this time, I turned off the heat. I also put some vinegar into the pan.
Then the sugar.
Dumped the bits and pieces of bacon on top. Stirred it real quick.
The taste reminded me of the stir fry lettuce my mom sometimes would cook for me. After looking at some pictures at the web, then I realized mine was more of a stir fried lettuce leaves rather than wilted lettuce leaves. I guess I left mine too long in the frying pan. So, if you want to try this, after you flip the lettuce and let it wilt, take them out of the frying pan an put it on to a plate. Well, my stir-fried wilted lettuce was all right, it was crunchy with a hint of sweetness from the sugar and vinegar, and a little bitterness from the lettuce itself.