Sunday, January 06, 2013

January Jeliciousness: Baked Spinach

My friend Andrea is one of those people who can invite fifty people to supper and not a bead of sweat will appear on her brow. Her house is immaculately beautiful: her taste is quirky, eclectic, whimsical, and the house is all the better for being filled with children and dogs. On Christmas Eve, she served this spinach with many other dishes to a house full of smilingly merry people, and I went back for more.  Twice. I begged her for the recipe.

Andrea says: "I love this recipe for baked spinach from the beloved Smitten Kitchen. It's based on a cream filled version from Julia Child. I use the recommended stock instead of cream and it works beautifully. I buy pre-packaged pre-washed baby spinach. It is easy and works well. (Don't be afraid to add more stock if needed) I also use the extra butter.  Enjoy!!!!"

Serves 6

3 pounds fresh spinach
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup stock (your choice; Julia recommends beef) or cream (I used stock; it doesn’t *need* cream)
3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese (Andrea substitutes Gruyere because she prefers the taste)
2 tablespoons fine, dry breadcrumbs

Stem and wash your spinach well but no need to spin or pat it dry. Place spinach in a large pot over high heat. Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes for baby spinach and 4 to 6 minutes for regular spinach. Transfer to a colander, immediately fill pot with cold water, transfer it back to the pot of cold water to shock it (stop the cooking) and drain again. Squeeze a small amount of the spinach at a time in your hands to extract as much water as possible. Chop the spinach coarsely. You should have about 3 cups of chopped spinach, or about 1 cup per pound.

Wipe out pot then melt 2 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat and stir in the spinach. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until all of the moisture from the spinach has boiled off — you’ll know you’re done when the spinach begins to stick to the pan.

Lower the heat and sprinkle with flour and stir for 2 minutes to cook the flour. Add 2/3 of your stock or cream, a tiny bit at a time, scraping up any stuck spinach as you do. Once the liquid is added, simmer for another minute or two, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. If you’re feeling especially indulgent, stir in one more tablespoon of butter. If needed, add all or part of remaining liquid. Season with salt (I found 1/2 teaspoon table salt about right) and pepper.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a shallow 1-quart baking dish. Stir 1/2 cup cheese into the spinach and pour it into the baking dish. Mix the remaining cheese with breadcrumbs and sprinkle on spinach. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons remaining butter and pour it over the top. Bake until heated through and slightly brown on the top, about 30 minutes.

image courtesy Smitten Kitchen
-- Andrea Gibbin


Carrington said...

Love the food Bum!

amro said...

Marvellous recipe. I look forward to the others!

JenHen said...

Sounds great! I wonder if it would work with kale, too?