Making a steak dinner – carrot soup, sous vide steak, heaps of shallots, strawberry gelato and mango panna cotta for dessert – but needed an extra side for the steak. Huge bag of spinach in the fridge, MCAH recommends creamed spinach as a side for the steak – OK, while it sounds like food from the Shady Acres Rest Home, let’s give it a try. How did it turn out? Good enough that I’d make it again, somewhat surprisingly.
Making a big dinner is like shooting a movie or coordinating a battle, or any complex routine, with numerous options, inputs, and outputs, parameters and variables, and the timing has to be just right. I wanted a side for the steak that would be more than ‘mushroom gravy’ but not that much more work to make. After giving the ingredients and instructions a read, this one seemed just about right.
Basically, take 600g of spinach, and sauté it in oil (and salt it), for a couple of minutes until it is cooked – then press out the extra water in a sieve. Let it cool completely and chop it finely. In a new pot, sauté 20g of shallots, 24g of garlic confit in about 1tbsp of oil. When the shallots have wilted, add the spinach, cook for 3 minutes, add 1/2 cup mascarpone, stir, and take off the stove. Mix together separately 80g cold milk, 0.4g xanthan gum, and 2g of Wondra, and then add it to the spinach mixture, and heat for a few minutes until the liquid is incorporated and the spinach is serving temperature. Grate 40g of comte cheese and add a 1/2 tsp of lemon zest; stir until the cheese is incorporated, season and serve.
Really, this dish stands on its own. You could serve it with just about anything – it could go next to the right risotto, it would go well with pork. Its flavour is delicate, but with grassy notes from the comte, and that bitter/sour note from the lemon zest. It doesn’t overpower on any aspect of its palate – it’s beautifully balanced, and the wondra/xanthan gum/mascarpone gives it an unctuous, yet creamy texture. It’s straightforward enough that the entire thing can be made in 30 minutes, and while it might lack a wow factor if you tell someone you’re serving creamed spinach for dinner, it won’t disappoint once they’ve had their first bite.