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Cooking

Recipes for creamed spinach

Something special — spiced or not — for your holiday table.

Photograph by Jim Scherer (with a tip of the hat to Irving Penn) / Styling by Catrine Kelty

TIP Don’t be gentle when squeezing out the spinach. The idea is to remove as much liquid as possible, and the greens really can take it.

CREAMED SPINACH

Serves 6

If you’re in a rush, skip the fried shallot garnish. Omit the olive oil and start the recipe by sauteing the 3 chopped shallots in the full 2½ tablespoons of butter.

5 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, cooked and cooled

1½ tablespoons olive oil

2½ tablespoons unsalted butter

8 large shallots, peeled, 5 of them thinly sliced and broken into rings (about 1 cup) and 3 finely chopped

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons anise-flavored liqueur, such as pastis, pernod, ouzo, or sambuca

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups half-and-half

teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Continue reading below

Spread a clean dish towel on a work surface, place the spinach in the center, gather the edges and corners, and, working over a large bowl to catch the liquid, twist hard to wring out. Reserve about 1 cup of liquid; empty the spinach into another bowl, break it up with your fingers, and set aside.

In a very large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil and 1½ tablespoons butter until hot and the bubbling subsides. Add the sliced shallots, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring constantly, until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the shallots to paper towels to drain (leaving as much fat as possible in the skillet), and set aside.

Adjust heat under the skillet to medium, add remaining butter, and heat until the bubbling subsides. Add the chopped shallots and cook, stirring, until soft, about 1 minute. Add the liqueur and cook, stirring, until almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute longer. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until light gold, about 1½ minutes longer. Whisking constantly, gradually add the half-and-half and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the nutmeg, 1½ teaspoons salt and pepper to taste, and continue to cook, stirring, until sauce thickens, about 2½ minutes longer. Add the spinach and ½ cup of the reserved spinach liquid, and cook, stirring, to incorporate and heat through, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust texture with spinach liquid and seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Scrape the creamed spinach into a warm serving dish, sprinkle with the fried shallots, and serve at once.

 

TIP: Don’t be gentle when squeezing out the spinach. The idea is to remove as much liquid as possible, and the greens really can take it.

TIP: Don’t be gentle when squeezing out the spinach. The idea is to remove as much liquid as possible, and the greens really can take it.

Variation

SPICED CREAMED SPINACH

Follow the recipe for Creamed Spinach, making the following changes:

1) Along with the minced shallots, add to the skillet 5 medium garlic cloves, minced, 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, ¾ teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander, ½ teaspoon each black pepper, paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes, and ¼ teaspoon cardamom.

2) Omit the anise-flavored liqueur and nutmeg.

3) Just before making final adjustments to texture and seasoning, stir in ¼ cup chopped cilantro.

***

 

CREAMED SPINACH WITH PORCINI AND PANCETTA

Serves 6

¾ ounce dried porcini mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼-inch pieces (about ¾ cup)

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups half-and-half

Salt and black pepper

5 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, cooked, cooled, and squeezed dry as for Creamed Spinach recipe, 1 cup cooking liquid reserved

In a medium bowl, cover the porcini with 1 cup boiling water (place a weight over them to keep them submerged) and soak until softened, about 15 minutes. With a dinner fork, lift the porcini out of the liquid, chop them finely (you should have about ½ cup), and set aside.

In a very large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the pancetta, adjust heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta to paper towels to drain (leaving as much fat as possible in the skillet), and set aside.

Adjust heat under the skillet to medium, add the onion, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until light gold, about 1½ minutes longer. Add the chopped porcini and, whisking constantly, gradually add the half-and-half and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add 1½ teaspoons salt and black pepper to taste and continue to cook, stirring, until sauce thickens, about 2½ minutes longer. Add the spinach and ½ cup of the reserved spinach liquid, and cook, stirring, to incorporate and heat through, about 3 minutes. Add most of the pancetta and stir to incorporate. Taste and adjust texture with spinach liquid and seasoning with salt and black pepper, if necessary. Scrape the creamed spinach into a warm serving dish, sprinkle with remaining pancetta, and serve at once.

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