[Editor’s note: this is Gish Gallop’s Loretta Splitair’s continuing series on how to stop being a pussy, and cook. Be sure to read her other lesson entitled “How to Cook a Fucking Rib Roast“]
There was a time in the not-so-recent history that a head of iceberg lettuce was considered a treat. Everyone loved it and looked forward to it. Then something happened, and you became afraid of it.
The Egyptians first cultivated lettuce thousands of years ago and turned it from a weed into a plant with succulent leaves and oil-producing seeds. Like all things brought to you by colonization, the Greeks and Romans fancied lettuce and spread it throughout their respective empires. It’s like how we Americans brought McDonald’s, KFC, and obesity to the rest world.
According to the History of Iceberg Lettuce (yes, there is a whole Internet page dedicated to this plant), “iceberg lettuce until the 1930s was known as Crisphead lettuce. Iceberg is only one of many types of Crisphead lettuce, and crisphead lettuce has several other varieties, such as imperial, Great Lakes, vanguard, and western.” Bet you you didn’t know that, eh?
Now, onto more modern bullshit. Sometime in the last 20-30 years, iceberg lettuce became synonymous with two things:
- Zero nutritional value and, more importantly
- Widespread oppression of predominantly Latino farmworkers in California’s Central Valley
These two facts combined to shame Liberal to politically moderate eaters into shying away from this crispy succulent. We might note here that Conservatives took to eating more iceberg lettuce for the opposite, more reactionary reasons, which added more fuel to the culture wars. What replaced iceberg lettuce was heartier varieties with more nutritional “umph” and child-frightening qualities like green leaf varieties. Later, as Americans became fascinated by packaging, convenience, and utter laziness, they opted for boxed “Spring Mixes” and pre-washed, sealed spinach non-sense.
It’s time to resurrect the majesty of iceberg lettuce. And I’m here to tell you how to do that step-by-step.
The good news is that you have almost everything you need in terms of skill and ingredients at your disposal. And it’s easy, trust me. Unfortunately, you lack the will to do so, which has been purged out of you primarily by Liberal guilt—time to get over that and enjoy this salad with a large chunk of meat.
Serves four people (double, triple, whatever to get to the crowds you need to feed. Use your brain.)
- 1 head of the freshest iceberg lettuce you can find
- 2 fillets from a can of anchovies (Yes. If you forget or refuse to use these, I recommend heading back to your Lean Cuisine diet. It’s for the best of everyone involved.)
- 1 cup of non-cheap mayonnaise
- 1-2 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce. More makes for deeper flavors and tartness. I suggest starting with 1.
- 1-2 dashes of bitters. Like the kind you make a Martini with, which we urge. Note no drinking until after you are done cutting.
- 1/4 cup of decent Ketchup
- 2 tbs of sweet pickle relish
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- If needed: whole milk or buttermilk (better) thin out the dressing.
Step 1) Thoroughly wash any store-bought, commercial iceberg lettuce under cold water. Some may feel more comfortable removing the outer layer of the lettuce to avoid issues with pesticide residues. Or get organic. Whatever you do, stop being a pussy. I tend to remove the outer layer because it tends to be not as crispy as I like it.
Step 2) Take your head of lettuce, with the core facing down, and forcibly slam it on your cutting board. Perhaps channeling the angst of your in-laws might help here. Then pull that sucker (the core, if you’re not paying attention) out and throw it at your mouthy, ungrateful children. Or remove and discard. Here’s a demo here if you’re either a Millennial who eats exclusively at Chipotle or you too dense to understand this:
How to core iceberg lettuce.
Step 3) Cut the iceberg, from the top, into four equal sections. Hint: that means you’ll be serving four people. There is no video for this. If you require a video on how to cut a cored iceberg lettuce into quarters, please stop now and take a remedial math class.
Step 4) Place each section onto a salad plate. You are now done with the lettuce preparation. Be glad you didn’t hack off any of your fingers during the process. Note: It is safe to consume alcohol now.
The Thousand Island Dressing
Look, I get it. It’s Thousand Island dressing. If you have any middle class in you, your mother forced you to make this. But you fucked it up and left out a few key ingredients.
Step 1) Combine all ingredients listed above (not the lettuce, dumbass) into a mixing bowl. I prefer my handy 4-cup glass measuring cup. But you can use whatever you want.
Step 2) Now, this is the tricky part. Those two anchovies fillets? You have to pulverize them. The best way to do this is with an Immersion/Hand Mixer (here’s a cheap but good one: Proctor-Silex 59738 Hand Blender), which will blend the fish nicely with the other ingredients. If you don’t have one of those, smash the anchovies with a fork until there is an admittedly gross mess, and then add them to other ingredients. Or you can buy anchovy paste, which I find culinarily [I just made that word up] disturbing. Fish goo. Not right.
Step 3) Mix well. That means you have to work it until it’s smooth and blended. Here’s where you can add some milk to help thin it out, but not too much. Again. Not too much. Add in about a teaspoon at a time.
Step 4) That’s it. Using a Tablespoon, drizzle over your lettuce.
What? No other salad toppings? Tomatoes? Cucumber? Nope. Stop acting like a salad-bar-spoiled American and enjoy the simplicity of the iceberg lettuce salad. Rejoice that you have conquered your Liberal shame and crunch on this lovely succulent. In this case, less is more.