Shoes That Go Flap In The Halls, And Echo
That Early Mess Of Lettuce And Onions

Kill Lettuce

Kill lettuce

Ever heard of Kill Lettuce? It's a traditional Appalachian way of using fresh leaf lettuce from the garden-or even branch lettuce that grows wild along the creek/branch banks. I've also heard folks call the dish Wilted Lettuce, Wilted Lettuce Salad or other variations of 'killed'-like Kilt Lettuce but around my house Granny and Pap always called it Kill Lettuce.

Wilted lettuce salad

Just like different families call the dish by different names-it's also cooked a little different by folks too. Today I'll share 2 of the most common recipes with you. Both recipes are the same in regards too serving-Kill Lettuce should be served immediately after making.

First up-the way Granny taught me: Begin by picking and washing your leaves of lettuce-making sure to dry off as much water as possible. Sometimes I wash mine early in the morning and leave it drying on a towel on the counter.

Kilt lettuce

Next-cut up several green onions and mix with torn lettuce in a bowl-adding salt and pepper to taste.

How to make kill lettuce

Pour hot bacon or salt pork (Pap and Granny call it streaked meat) grease over the lettuce onion mixture. Be prepared for lots of hissing and popping when the grease hits the lettuce. Stir thoroughly and serve quickly. It doesn't take much grease-only a couple of tablespoons-depending on the amount of lettuce you use.

Wilted lettuce salad with vinegar

Miss Cindy's family made Kill Lettuce by a different recipe-but one that is also common throughout Appalachia:

I learned from Dad how to make wilted/killed lettuce.

Cook a few slices of bacon and crumble it in a bowl on top of the torn lettuce and cut green onions (cut onions including the tops). Add salt and pepper. Heat the remaining bacon grease and pour it on the greens then add vinegar or lemon juice to the hot pan and swirl it then pour it on the greens. Toss the bowl contents to mix and eat immediately...with cornbread. The lettuce is so fragile that it doesn't take much grease to wilt it and the lemon/vinegar is hot so it helps to wilt it as well.

Traditional appalachian meal

Above you can see a traditional Appalachian meal: Pinto beans, cornbread, streaked meat (salt pork), soupy potatoes, fresh radishes, and kill lettuce.

Have you had kill lettuce? Did you like it? Or do you think the whole thing sounds like a mess that no one should eat?


p.s. Check out Rick's Whitetail Woods to see one of Chatter's latest accomplishments.

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Interesting you should bring up the hetriage recipes concept. Molly O'Neill just put out a cookbook/story book called One Big Table. She traveled all over the country collecting stories of families and the recipes that go along with them. Great stuff. Similar to what you were thinking. Haven't seen one that's just focused on the South.

I Love in MY Momma An Daddy taught me how to make it with the vinager, i made it for some friens in california when we were stationed in san diego county. they were skeptic at first but ended up liking it. i also an regular onin instead of green onion. I love it.its worth the mess an hassal.

Both my grandmother's make this all the time, and I have learned as well although i'm allergic to onions so I prefer just the lettuce with grease over it. :) I could eat a whole pan full, I love it and corn bread. :)

maw used to make this...we called it just lettuce and onions. Sure was good with beans, taters, corn bread and pork of any kind . Gonna have to try making it myself

Lordy,Lordy,I am starvin and want
go home to the mountains.Actually
want the home fries with mine
See yall in heaven

Actually, that whole meal looks really good!!

Guess I should have read this post first before I commented about the 'wilted lettuce.' :)

Oh well, at least I know now. xxoo

Tipper, that is a fine looking plate of supper. I like the wilted lettuce and I've always been a fan of Pinto Beans and streaked meat. I was shocked to learn that a lot of folks buy canned beans instead of cooking dried beans. Like the lettuce and cooked greens I've eaten dried beans all my life.
My grand dad finished every meal with cornbread and molasses!

Yummm- this made my mouth water, Tipper. I haven't had kilt lettuce since my mammaw passed away... I need to try my hand at making it! (I know it won't be as good as hers though...)

I have seen this before, a long time ago.
I don't remember eating it though. I'm not a fan of wilted looking lettuce.

You made me hungry agaiin, Tipper. LOL. Love wilted lettuce. We put a bit of sugar in it.
Nice turkey Chatter. Way to go, girl.
Y'all take care. T

Wilted lettuce salad is definitely not a mess to miss. I grew up with this and wilted spinach salad as well. It seemed it had something to do with slightly less than perfect lettuce or spinach? Not bad just not perfect. Often my mom would "fancy" it up with sliced egg or pickled julienned beets on the side or both artistically arranged.

My mother also fed us kids on "Wilted Lettuce" salad from the family garden. She used the bacon grease and sizzled meat, with vinegar, and sugar combination and we all loved it. Somehow this recipe made it out to Oregon where I grew up. It's probably been 50 years since I've had it. It's time to find some home-grown lettuce. Thanks for sharing!

Wilted lettuce (with hot vinegar) is a MUST for summer! That and new potatoes cooked with fresh green beans and bacon is the epitome of summer eating!

I never heard it called Kill Lettuce, but I always enjoyed Wilted Lettuce. The one I remember was much like your Granny taught you.

Tipper we always called it Wilted lettuce and I loved it!

That plate of food looks yummy. Also looks like something I grew up eating.

I would love to have me some wilted lettuce right now. Yum!

I haven't had it in years! I've always heard it called wilted lettuce. I always had it with the bacon crumbled up in it, too.

Your meal looks delicious~I love pinto beans!

When I was a kid we ate wilted lettuce with garlic and used apple cider vinegar to give it some wonderful tang. We would use either home grown black simpson seeded lettuce provided by my Grandpa or iceberg lettuce; just depended on the season.

I haven't had it in a long time. When I grew up in Oklahoma, we had the dish frequently in the spring and summer. Poke greens were a spring dish also. Your pictures make me hungry...Will have to make it again..

Tipper: You have such interesting traditions and foods from the mountains. I've never heard of this and just use the lettuce in salad or soups.

Good food and what is any meal without cornbread? Or, maybe I should ask, Is there any time that cornbread doesn't fit? Mom and my older sisters made wilted lettuce, same way, leaf lettuce, onions, vinegar, salt and pepper, bacon, grease from the bacon wilting the greens. Lordy, the pictures would make anybody hungry.

Why does reading your blog always make me so hungry? :) Mmmmmmmm. Wilted lettuce I've heard of but I don't think I've ever eaten it.

hey tip, long time huh...we called it a "wilted" lettuce salad but i like the kill lettuce. our garden is not in, it snowed ove 4" wet heavy inches on the 8th?!! looks like it might make it to 60 today! we have some of our plants starting on the window sill and hopefully before they get too big will be able to put in the ground. your garden is beautiful. hoping for more sunny days this year.

We always called it "lettuce and onions". My daddy was the one usually in charge of gathering up the veggies and fixing them in one of the smaller iron skillets. He heated up the grease and dumped them in, after they wilted a bit he added apple cider vinegar, salt and a touch of sugar. Then dumped them all out in a bowl.

I still can't make them as good as he did. I even planted a garden specifically for that very treat.

Thanks for the info - I had never heard it called kilt lettuce before and I am right smack in the middle of the Appalachain Mountains.

Ethel-soupy potatoes are jus tpotatoes boiled in water-with salt, pepper, and butter-until they're soupy : )

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Your dad's kill lettuce sounds tasty! I've only ever seen this sort of thing done with spinach, which I don't have enough room for in my garden. I have plenty of lettuce out there already and will be picking up some bacon on my run into town this afternoon! Thanks for sharing! Is there a recipe for the soupy potatoes?

every time i read your blog, memories come falling into my head. Pinto beans were a staple in KY, nary a meal without them. at the 3 room grade school I attendded, many days all we had for lunch was pintos and cornbread and milk. yum. Kilt lettuce I have heard of but not eaten. i might just make some and try it. also mother put bacon grease in everything from beans and peas and anything she cooked. one lady that made killer bisucits brushed the tops with bacon grease before she baked them i am getting fatter as i type. love this post today

Hey Tipper, Great radio selection.
Your lettuce fixens are just the same as I was raised with.My mama
didn't use vinegar in this but it
sure is good with beans and taters
huh? Congradulations Chatter, you're a real mountain girl and we
like it that way. Got my first buck before I was a teenager, so I
know how proud you and the deer hunter must be. a friend, Ken

I've used a similar recipe with a little vinegar for branch lettuce or dandelion greens. Pretty yummy. But generally I prefer my lettuce raw and crisp with olive oil and vinegar.

my husband loves this dish, although here we call it wilted lettuce, and some people just call it lettuce because I guess they think that's the only way to eat it! It's delicious, but...bacon grease. Oh well, as you say, it only tales a little bit.

Thanks--now I'm starving for it, and my lettuce is just now peeping through! Can't wait until its big enough. I make mine just like your original recipe.

Yum! I havent had kilt lettuce since I was at home. My mom made hers with fatback grease and added the vinegar and sugar. She also beat up an egg and put in it, kinda emulsified it. I dont 'know how she kept the egg from cooking but it didnt'. I've never seen a recipe for it call for an egg. Hmm, now you got me wanted some with a hunk a cornbread.

Congratulations, Chatter!!! Nice gobbler. Have you ever heard of making a turkey call out of the wingbones? My husband learned how, think he found the instructions on the internet. He's made several. If you still have them would be a nice momento of your first gobbler.

I've never heard that term, but I do remember my Granny fixing something similar.

In Missouri we call it wilted lettuce; I make it with vinegar and sugar added to the bacon grease.

Cool! I've never heard of it!

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