A big part of going out to a steakhouse is, for me, the array of side dishes that accompany your weeping slab of meat. You can dress your table up any way you’d like, with items far too rich and indulgent to brave making at home. Have you ever seriously considered making your own green bean and black truffle casserole, served in individually-sized ramekins? And who is sitting around twice-baking potatoes, jamming them full of sour cream and cheddar cheese? (Okay, the answer is “us,” on both counts.)
Today, we learned that creamed spinach, the steakhouse staple, is way, WAY easier to make than we had ever imagined, and is even better than the gummy mounds of goo you find in some restaurants. The trick is to start with a roux, let it get REALLY thick, whisk in all your milk at once, and then thin it with some heavy cream. You’ll see that our version came out a tiny bit brown; the shallots got away from me, and went from “translucent” to “browned” in mere moments. Don’t let this happen to you, and you will have a much more appetizing-looking finished product. Actually, y’know what? It doesn’t matter if it does happen to you. A little browned-shallot flavor never hurt anyone, and the results are still spectacular.
Also, a pound of raw spinach seems like an ungodly amount of vegetables. It’s not. You’ll see when it cooks down. Don’t skimp.
For bonus lily-gilding points, pour the finished product into a mini casserole dish, and finish in the oven with some grated Parmesan cheese on top. If you can wait that long.
Adapted from a recipe by Mark Peel of Campanile
- 1 pound uncooked spinach leaves, stems removed
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1/2 a finely chopped shallot (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cups whole milk
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of pepper
- Heavy pinch of nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream, as needed
Bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spinach, and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain, and transfer spinach to a bowl of ice water. Drain, and squeeze water out of spinach by hand. Finely chop and set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the shallot. Cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the flour and garlic and cook a few minutes, until the roux begins to slightly darken and change color. Whisk in the milk all at once, and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture simmers and thickens. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, whisking often, until mixture becomes very thick. Use a rubber spatula occasionally to keep mixture from sticking to the pan and scorching.
Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as a healthy pinch of nutmeg. Stir in chopped spinach. Thin, if needed, with the heavy cream. Simmer very gently for 5 to 10 minutes, and serve.