Thursday, September 29, 2011

Creamed Spinach

I love creamed spinach.  It's such a good thing to have any time of year and it goes with so many dishes.  Normally, I tend to make creamed spinach with a small 10oz. block of frozen spinach, because it's so convenient and quite honestly a very good product.  Treat yourself the next time you want a side to My Favorite Roast Chicken or the leaner version of it called Favorite Roast Chicken II.  Creamed spinach is classically paired with a great big steak & surely you can make it to accompany one if you wish.  If you're a vegetarian, this will pair nicely with a generous helping of lentils, chickpeas or any other legume.  Forgo the frozen "creamed spinach" packages at your supermarket & make it from scratch.  I think your entire family is going love this side dish. 


Don't you just want to make this?  Let's begin!


The Ingredients
  • 10oz. chopped frozen spinach, cooked according to package directions, drained well, reserving about 1/2 cup cooking liquid.
  • 1 small shallot finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon flour (I use Wondra)
  • 2/3 cup whole milk (light cream or heavy cream can be used)
  • salt & pepper
Note: the cooked spinach is draining in a sieve set over a bowl.  I save the cooking water to thin out the dish at the end of cooking. 

Yield: 4 generous servings.

 
In a saucier or 10" frying pan, heat 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (you can use butter if you want to make it richer ~ it's up to you!) over medium heat.  Add your chopped shallot & cook until it's fragrant & becomes translucent.  About 3 minutes.  Add a dash of salt & pepper.


Add the minced garlic & stir in well.  Let this cook for about 30 seconds, on medium flame.  Don't let your shallots & garlic burn or brown excessively.  Regulate your heat if you have to.

 
Now add the flour.  I love using Wondra flour (found in a blue cylindrical container in the baking aisle of any supermarket) because it is a very fine flour that makes smooth sauces.  Look for it the next time your shopping at the market.

 
You should switch to a whisk.  Whisk the flour mixture constantly, reaching all around the pan.  This shouldn't take on any color, but it should be cooked for at least 30 seconds before proceeding to the next step.  Your heat should be on medium at this point.


Begin pouring the milk in a slow steady stream with one hand & whisking vigorously with the other.  You don't want the milk mixture to clump.

 
I'm whisking all around the saucier without stopping until the entire mixture thickens well.  Raise your heat if you have to, but don't let it burn.  In less than one minute this will reach the desired consistency.  Salt & pepper the mixture to taste.


This is what you want to see.  A thickened sauce that is smooth and rich.  No lumps!

 
Add your drained spinach & switch back to your wooden spoon.  Stir this well.  By the way, your heat should still be on medium.  I let the creamed spinach return to a simmer.  Cook for another minute more.


If your mixture is too thick, thin it out with the reserved cooking water, one tablespoon at a time, until it's a good consistency (you will NOT use the entire cooking liquid).  I do this instead of adding more milk.  It does cut down on calories, but not on flavor.  A very good thing.


 
A generous helping served in a small bowl.  The consistency is just right. 
 


I'm almost certain that if you present your family with a bit of my creamed spinach, there won't be a speck left when you're done with dinner.  Even those that claim to dislike spinach will ask for seconds.  If, by chance, you prefer to make this with fresh spinach, be my guest.  If you do, rinse the spinach leaves well & don't drain.  Simply saute the leaves in a dry skillet and let the spinach bunch cook until done.  Remove the leaves and finely chop.  I do recommend reserving the cooking water.  You can then proceed with the recipe.  Now that you know how easy it is to make creamed spinach, why not make it tonight?  Enjoy! 

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