Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saturday Creamed Spinach

I love creamed spinach.  When I had my wisdom teeth out several years ago, I pretty much survived on it for a while.  I didn't make it myself, though.  I bought it from Boston Market.  Theirs is really good.  Later, I embarked upon a quest to find the perfect recipe.  I bombed a lot.  And I am the only one in my house that likes it.  No taste-testers.  Julia Child's recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a keeper.
Last week, I wrote about Vin Rouge French Bistro for the Durham Herald-Sun.  My article had nothing to do with creamed spinach, but I did happen to have Chef Matt Kelly's recipe for it and I included it with the article.  The recipe is from Ann Prospero's book, Chefs Of The Triangle.
While at high school-age son's basketball game on Friday night, a mom-friend asked me about the recipe.  It didn't seem to me that she was going to make it herself, though, even though she said she really likes creamed spinach.  So, I decided to make it my own self and take some to her.  Of course, that means that I had some for me, too!  Quelle bonne idée!
I assembled the ingredients...
Lots of spinach (I know it's not in season here in NC, but Harris Teeter brings it in)
added to hot half-and-half

and wilted.

Salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg had been added to the cream.
Then it was time to make a roux of butter and flour.
The roux was added to the spinach and cream mixture.
Back to the heat to thicken.
My immersion blender came out of the cabinet where it lives next to Mildred the Mixer.

And finally the creamed spinach was placed in my beloved tian and in a little blue dish for my friend's portion.  Gruyère cheese was sprinkled on the top and heavy cream was drizzled on before popping it into the oven.

Chef Matthew Kelly's Creamed Spinach
Serves 6

1 quart half-and-half
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 pounds baby flat-leaf spinach
2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup flour
1 to 2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
Heavy cream to drizzle

Preheat oven to 400˚F.  In a large pot, bring half-and-half just to a boil.  Add garlic, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Working in batches, stir in spinach just until wilted.  Continue stirring in more spinach until all 2 1/2 pounds have been incorporated into cream mixture.  Remove from heat.  Make a roux by melting butter in a sauté pan over medium heat and stirring in flour.  Continue stirring until mixture thickens and forms gravy.  Remove from heat.  Add roux to spinach, return to heat, and bring to a boil.  Stir until roux thickens the cream and spinach mixture.  Using an immersion blender, lightly pulse until ingredients are just mixed but not puréed.  Adjust seasonings.  Place spinach in an ovenproof serving container.  Sprinkle with Gruyère and drizzle heavy cream on top.  Bake for 6 to 8 minutes until cheese is golden brown. 

Bon appétit, les épinards et Chef Matt!

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