Monday, December 6, 2010
There are a lot of foods that while they might be incredibly appealing taste wise, are rather difficult to honestly say look appealing. For me, creamed spinach is one of them. I never thought it looked like something I wanted to eat and so for a long time I didn't even try it. Not that there was a lot of opportunity to do so, but when those rare opportunities presented themselves I quickly passed them up. I can't clearly recall when this changed but I do know that I am quite glad it did.
Creamed spinach is rather simple to make and because it is so full of leafy green spinach (which I know is good for me) I can pretend that it is super healthy too. Or at least I can for as long as I can ignore all the heavy cream I'm generously adding to the pot. There is always the option of being less generous while making this, but considering that cream gets first billing in the recipe I find that hard to do. Personally, I would always rather have less of something incredible than be able to have more of a less tasty diet version. This is exactly why I add an ingredient not usually called for, freshly grated Parmesan. It snuggles in with the cream sauce and adds a further depth of flavor to an already wonderful dish.
Ironically, I paired a diet-like version of a recipe with this creamed spinach. It was not for health concerns that I chose to serve oven fried chicken over deep fried chicken. I dislike the waste of oil, the lingering smell (and sometimes residue) in my kitchen, and the potential for danger (that oil is HOT) that deep frying nearly always implies. The recipe for the chicken comes from Cooks Country magazine but since I was a bit torn in my opinion regarding the results I will not be posting the recipe (if you are interested it is on their website which you need a paid subscription to access, or it is also in their Oct. '05 issue). While I loved how tender and flavorful the chicken was after marinating it in some buttermilk, I was not impressed with how incredibly salty and dry the "breading" made of a combo of corn flakes and bread crumbs turned out to be.
Next time I will stick to my instincts and avoid a "diet" version of a recipe. That and make more creamed spinach because it was good.
2 pounds fresh baby spinach, washed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream
2-4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
To a large saute pan add a tiny bit of water, enough to barely cover the bottom and place over medium high heat. Add the spinach and cover, allowing the spinach to wilt and start releasing its moisture (don't worry if it looks like it won't all fit, it will cook down a LOT). Remove as much water as possible by either adding the spinach to a fine mesh strainer and pressing with a large spoon, grabbing fists full and squeezing (ouch it's hot), or rolling inside a dark (to prevent staining) dishtowel and wringing it out. Finely chop the spinach and set aside.
In your now empty saute pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute,stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and keep stirring, just until the liquid is released. Add the cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and Parmesan, and cook until the Parmesan is melted and the cream is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with some crusty bread available so that you don't waste any of the creamy goodness.