Cold Smoked Lettuce
September 18, 2013
At Grilling.com, we’re devoted to not only providing great recipes but also pushing the boundaries of what can be cooked on your backyard smoker or grill. Several years ago I was introduced to grilled lettuce by pitmaster extraordinaire, Chris Lilly, and it was love at first bite.
Fast forward to today, my encounter with a single head of red romaine lettuce that was calling my name at the local farmers market, and a desire to cold smoke something besides a block of cheese or a beautiful piece of meat.
Now when cold smoking on the grill, the key is to create just enough heat to fuel a sweet blue stream of smoke. Normally I place one or two burning briquettes on the bottom of the smoker or grill along with a small amount of wood chips but as I was also going to be fire roasting a few other vegetables, I decided to expedite the process by using a charcoal chimney as the primary heat source and a partially closed lid as a outdoor convection oven.
The lettuce was placed as far away from the chimney as possible, resting in a bowl of ice water to ensure it remained crisp as it absorbed the smoke.
That said, there is one cardinal rule that I have learned during my cold smoking education process, and with all barbecue and grilling for that matter, is that too much smoke can indeed be a bad thing.
Take for example my many, many experiments with a smoke gun, some of which were awesome like grilled and cold smoked scallops, and some of which were downright awful like overly smoked popcorn.
The result? Cold smoked lettuce to be used for some Thai-style lettuce wraps (the recipe for which will follow soon!
Cold Smoked Lettuce
- 1 head of red Romaine lettuce
Prepare a chimney of charcoal by adding newspaper, a portion of your charcoal bag or a starter cube (found at most local hardware stores in the BBQ and grilling section). As the charcoal heats, place the lettuce (core side down) in to a heat resistant bowl that has been partially filled with ice water. Place the bowl on to the smoker as far away from the chimney as possible. Close the smoker lid partially (I used a Big Green Egg,) just enough to allow the smoke to envelop the lettuce, and allow to smoke for 5-7 minutes so that the smoke flavor penetrates the leaves but does not overpower them.
Remove from the smoker and serve as a salad or as part of a main course.
–Clint Cantwell, Grilling.com Editor