Galactic lettuce leaves are a beautiful deep red, and they have a slightly bitter taste that stands up nicely to the slowly cooked beef in this recipe. I used grass fed beef from DaLe Ranch near Lake Elsinore, California. I think it has a deeper flavor than corn fed commercial beef, and it’s much better for our environment, but it’s not inexpensive. Serving it as an appetizer in these lettuce wraps is an affordable way to use this high quality meat at a party, since each wrap only requires 2-3 ounces of beef. The colors and flavors in this dish make it a natural partner for an intense red wine; try it with a locally made syrah from Orfila Vineyards in the San Pasqual Valley.
One to two heads Galactic lettuce
A 3 pound, grass fed beef chuck roast
One large yellow onion, diced large
One head garlic, peeled, with the cloves left whole
8 ounces shitake mushrooms, whole
One cup red wine
One tablespoon cornstarch
Julienned radish and sliced green onion, for garnish
This recipe isn’t difficult, but it takes a long time – the beef can be cooked overnight and reheated when it’s time to eat.
Season the beef liberally with salt and pepper on all sides. In a heavy skillet, heat the oil over a medium high flame, add the beef and brown it on all sides. This should take abut ten minutes, and the outside of the roast should be brown and a little crusty. Transfer the beef to a large crock pot, or if you don’t have a large crock pot, to a roasting pan.
Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms to the skillet, and sautee over medium high heat just until they start to brown, a minute or two. Transfer these to the crock pot or roasting pan, then immediately add the wine to the skillet. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the skillet, loosening all the brown bits stuck there. When the wine comes to a boil, add it to the other ingredients. If using a crock pot, set it to low and walk away for six to eight hours. If using the oven, cover the roasting pan with foil and set the oven to 225 degrees, and cook for six to eight hours.
The beef is done when it is easily pulled apart with a fork. Remove the beef from the cooking liquid and tear it into bite size chunks; it may be easier if you first slice the beef against the grain into two inch thick slices. Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables from the liquid, and toss them with the beef. Pour the cooking liquid into a saucepan, and cook until it reduces to about a cup; leave the sauce over a low flame. Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a little water to form a smooth paste; stir the paste into the sauce to thicken it.
Wash and dry the Galactic lettuce leaves and lay one leaf on each plate. If your roast was around three pounds, you should have enough beef for about sixteen wraps. Place a mound of beef on each leaf; the beef should be warm, but not hot, in order to not wilt the lettuce leaves. Drizzle a little sauce over the beef and garnish with julienned radishes and sliced green onions. Serve immediately and enjoy!