Kilt, Killed, or Wilted Fresh Lettuce and Bacon Salad
Sure signs of spring where I come from:
Dogwoods and redbuds are blooming.
Crappies are biting.
Turkeys are gobbling.
Canvas-covered lettuce beds pop up behind our and most of our neighbors' houses.
This recipe makes use of that last one. Fresh lettuce is one of the first things we can plant in our spring gardens. The light, spun canvas covers help to protect the tender new growth from the inevitable cold snaps that always seem to happen in a Midwestern spring. Black-Seeded Simpson and Bibb have always been our leaf lettuces of choice, but plant whatever variety you prefer.
This dish was a spring staple in our home while I was growing up. We called it bacon grease salad, but across most of the South and along the Appalachian Mountain chain, it most often goes by wilted, killed, or even kilt lettuce salad.
The salad is as simple as it gets. Hot bacon grease gets drizzled over a bowl of freshly picked lettuce, lightly wilting (or killing) the leaves. The salad gets topped with sliced green onions from the same plant bed, occasionally a sliced radish or two, and the bacon that was rendered out to make the grease.
Some folks like to get fancy and whisk a bit of red wine vinegar into the grease, but I'm a purist and straight bacon drippings are my choice.
Want the ultimate bacon grease salad? Make your own bacon at home with this recipe. Slice off just what you need for the meal and dice it up. Is it healthy? Well, it's better for you than crystal meth, but it probably isn't the healthiest of salad options. Does it taste delicious? You bet it does.
1 pound bacon, diced
Large bowl of fresh leaf lettuce, washed and dried
3 to 4 green onions, thinly diced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, optional
Sliced radish, optional
This is about as simple a recipe as it gets. Render the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove and reserve the bacon.
Keep the bacon grease hot over low to medium heat. Whisk in red wine vinegar, if desired.
Pick, wash, and dry enough leaf lettuce for the number of salads you wish to make.
Place the lettuce in a bowl or on a plate. Drizzle over 1 to 2 tablespoons of hot bacon grease. The grease should sputter and pop a bit when it hits the lettuce and the leaf should wilt just a bit. Toss well.
Top with reserved bacon, diced green onion, and sliced radish, if desired. Serve immediately while the bacon grease is still warm.