For this braised lettuce — especially ambrosial if, as suggested here, a discreet anchovy or 10 are permitted — everything is fast and minimal. Put thin wedges of lettuce to quickly and lightly wilt in warm butter and broth and spoon it over hot bread. That’s all.
large head romaine lettuce — or two smaller ones
anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
garlic clove, pounded to a paste with a little bit of salt
tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
pieces rustic bread, about 3 inches by 2 inches, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
cup chicken or vegetable stock
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Zest of half a lemon
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- Remove the outer leaves from the romaine, saving them for soup. Trim the stem, leaving it intact and leaves connected. Cut the head into 6 thin wedges, each wedge connected at the core/stem.
- Make anchovy butter by pounding the anchovies to a paste with the garlic paste, then mashing in 4 tablespoons butter. Combine well.
- Toast the bread.
- Warm a pan large enough to fit all of the lettuce wedges. Add remaining butter. Once it has melted, add the stock, and fit the romaine wedges closely into the pan in a single layer. Salt lightly. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, and turn all the wedges to another side. Salt again, and scatter with lemon zest. Continue to cook, turning once or twice more, until the liquid in the pan is absorbed and the lettuce is very wilted on the leaf end and tender on the stem end. Turn off heat.
- In the pan or on a cutting board, cut each wedge once or twice horizontally.
- Spread each piece of toast thickly with anchovy butter, then top with the sections of a wedge of lettuce. Sprinkle each lightly with salt again, if desired. Serve hot.
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