Braised gem lettuce with Jersey Royals

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This braised lettuce recipe pairs beautiful baby gem lettuce heads with buttery Jersey Royal potatoes. The salty kick of the bacon, sweetness of the button onions and plenty of fresh parsley brings everything together in a harmonious springtime dish. See Anna's other lettuce recipes here.

First published in 2019

This is a good lunch dish. It is also an excellent accompaniment to roasted meats and fish (in which case omit the bacon). Fresh, tight lettuce heads are preferable here as they will hold their shape better.

Alternatives: to make this a slightly more decadent lunch, a poached egg can be added on top. The bacon can be omitted if you want to keep things vegetarian.





Remove the outer leaves of the little gems, split each head in half lengthways and swill around in water to wash them and encourage any grit to fall out
Scrub the Jersey Royals. If they are small, leave them whole. Cut any that are larger than a walnut in half
In a lidded pan that will hold the lettuces in one layer, melt 25g of the butter and brown the lardons. Once crisp, remove and set aside. In this fat, brown the button onions for a few minutes and then set aside
Very lightly brown the gem halves cut-side down in the fat. Turn over and tuck the Jersey Royals into the nooks and crannies. Season with salt and pepper. Strew over the onions and bacon and give the pan a little shake so everything nestles in together
Pour in enough stock to come a quarter of the way up the lettuce heads. Place the lid on top and bring to the boil. Once a rolling boil has been reached, lower the heat and cock the lid slightly, to allow some steam to release
Once the potatoes are cooked (about 20 minutes), take the pan off the heat and remove the ingredients with a slotted spoon to a serving dish. If the liquid remaining in the pan is a bit watery then boil rapidly until you have a nicely concentrated flavour. Whisk in the remaining butter and squeeze over some lemon juice
Pour the dressing on top of the lettuces and sprinkle with parsley

Previously guest head chef at East London favourite P. Franco, Anna Tobias has built a career on simple but effective cookery.

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