Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

THE BEST: Creamed Spinach in NYC


Recommended Posts

Smith & Wollensky gets my vote.

Its a damnned good one, to be sure, but a larger amount of cream than I would like. Same goes for Gage and Tollners.

Luger's I think has an appropriate ratio of spinach to dairy. Its got my vote.

That's ironic -- I like the Smith & Wollensky creamed spinach because it doesn't have too much cream. I like to still have the taste and texture of the vegetable without feeling like I'm eating a bowl of baby food. It keeps a certain lusciousness and vibrant green color.

But I think the "spinach to dairy" ratio really is a matter of personal taste.

I haven't tried Gage & Tollners, but based on this comment, it sounds like I would like it very much!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not an exactly traditional version, but very good. "The Best Creamed Spinach" from Debra Ponzek"s excellent cookbook, French Food American Accent. Of course; fresh spinach, She also uses diced mushrooms , shallots, heavy cream. This version is close to Mitchell

London's version, not so watery and has more flavor.

page 132 in the cookbook.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Spinach absorbs a lot of butter, as Nick said. I read (somewhere) of a chef who "fed" butter to a dish of chopped spinach, every day, until it had absorbed its weight in butter.

Jane Grigson - Good Things :smile:

v

There is a similar instruction somewhere in Elizabeth David's books ... spinach "imbibing" half its weight in butter, or something like that. Of course there's a lot of crossover between Grigson and David.

Adding cream little by little achieves something like this, too. Not a steakhousey creamed spinach, a different, very good thing. Nutmeg seems absolutely essential regardless in almost any cream/spinach preparation.

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Warning: Ancillary to topic.....

1) As for spinach and butter:

Spinach, a vegetable cultivated in many varieties which is becoming increasingly popular both boiled as greens and  in soups. When well cooked, it is about a health-giving an article as can be imagined. ...The French call spinach "belly broom" because of its value as "roughage" and also "death of the butter" because (as best liked in France) of the large amount added to it in cooking. "...Ward, Artemas. The Encyclopedia of Food: The Stories of the Foods by Which We Live... (how and where they grow and are marketed; their comparative values and how best to use and enjoy them). Published by Artemas Ward. New York. 1923 [also, New York: P. Smith, 1941].

2) And here's one for the recipe box...(anyone else think that the pernod/anisette doesn't seem quite American? maybe New Orleans??? Sorry to say that I didn't copy down the regional information about this recipe....)

American Regional Cuisine: A Coast-to-Coast Celebration of the National Culinary Diversity. Edited by The Art Institutes. New York: Wiley, 2002.

Creamed Spinach

Yield: Six servings

2  pounds spinach

2  T butter

2  T all-purpose flour

10  fluid ounces milk

2  fluid ounces heavy cream

1  clove garlic, peeled, split

  Salt, to taste

  Black pepper, ground, to taste

2  tsp. pernod or anisette

Wash the spinach, remove the stems, and wash again. Drain lightly.

Place the wet spinach leaves in a large saucepot. Cover and cook over medium heat approximately 4 minutes or until the spinach is wilted.

Drain well by pushing the spinach into a conical strainer with the back of a spoon or ladle until all the excess liquid is drained.

Squeeze the spinach by hand until as dry as possible. Chop roughly and reserve under refrigeration until needed.

Melt the butter over low heat in a saucepan. Stir in the flour to make a blond roux and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the milk, cream, and garlic. Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down and simmer slowly for 20-30 minutes or until the starchy flavor is cooked out of the béchamel sauce. Do not allow the simmering sauce to fall below 140° F.

Remove the garlic from the sauce and add the chopped spinach. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Simmer slowly for an additional 10 minutes or until the spinach is thoroughly hot.

Stir in the pernod or anisette and serve immediately.

(Note: the original text includes additional information about storage....)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been making a creamed spinach recipe for a while. No cream, but a significant amount of bechamel. Although it is actually really good, it uses frozen spinach.

Enough bechamel to use almost a quart of milk, thicken with roux to a cream soup consistency. Saute 1 onion and some garlic in butter, then add thawed, drained spinach. Season with salt and pepper and add about 3/4 of the bechamel sauce. Adjust to consistency you like. Reseason with what ever grated cheese you like, pecorino, parm etc... a few drops of worcestershire sauce and a few drops of tobasco to cut the fat. Add a light layer of cheese on top and bake for about 10 minutes.

Sets a little bit. Great as side dish or a dip. I like it a little thinner, so I usually use the entire bechemel.

Link to post
Share on other sites
What is the origin of the recipe? Is it one of those olde New York jobs or did they bring it over from England?

1) The British writer John Evelyn included the following recipe in his Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets (1699):

[Evelyn, John. Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets (1699). General editor, Christopher Driver; with an introduction by Tom Jaine. Devon: Prospect Books, 1996.]

page 106...No. 28. Of Spinage. Take a sufficient quantity of spinach, stamp and strain out the juice; put to it grated manchet, the yolk of as many eggs as in the former composition of the carrot-pudding [Evelyn here is referring to a previously listed recipe]; some marrow shred small, nutmeg, sugar, some Corinths, (if you please) a few carroways, rose, or orange-flower water (as you best like) to make it grateful. Mingle all with a little boiled cream; and set the dish or pan in the oven, with a garnish of puff-paste. It will require but very moderate baking.

But spinach has never been a particularly popular vegetable in America, relative to other vegetables (and that's not saying much; even in 1977, only artichokes, asparagus and eggplant ranked lower in per capita vegetable consumption). One explanation rests in the relative availability/lack thereof of fresh spinach in different regions and in different eras (think about canned spinach and you can see what I mean). There are other explanations, as well. For example, heartier greens that could be cooked for a long time with bits of pork have long been a favorite in the south; growing and cooking spinach is a relatively labor-intensive proposition, and you don't get much bang for your buck, i.e., poor source of calories for the manual laborer; often spinach is overcooked; many other greens, including wild ones that we don't generally eat today, were more popular; and the list goes on...

A few final notes:

-- A small-leaved spinach was cultivated in the American colonies; however, it was not until the late 1800s that a more appealing variety was developed

-- Beeton’s Book of Household Management, published in 1861, includes recipe for "Spinach Dressed with Cream" (not quite what we mean by creamed spinach, however...)

-- Boston's famous LockeOber restaurant has had creamed spinach on the menu since 1875....

Edited by Aquitaine (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 6 years later...
What is the origin of the recipe? Is it one of those olde New York jobs or did they bring it over from England?

1) The British writer John Evelyn included the following recipe in his Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets (1699):

[Evelyn, John. Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets (1699). General editor, Christopher Driver; with an introduction by Tom Jaine. Devon: Prospect Books, 1996.]

page 106...No. 28. Of Spinage. Take a sufficient quantity of spinach, stamp and strain out the juice; put to it grated manchet, the yolk of as many eggs as in the former composition of the carrot-pudding [Evelyn here is referring to a previously listed recipe]; some marrow shred small, nutmeg, sugar, some Corinths, (if you please) a few carroways, rose, or orange-flower water (as you best like) to make it grateful. Mingle all with a little boiled cream; and set the dish or pan in the oven, with a garnish of puff-paste. It will require but very moderate baking.

But spinach has never been a particularly popular vegetable in America, relative to other vegetables (and that's not saying much; even in 1977, only artichokes, asparagus and eggplant ranked lower in per capita vegetable consumption). One explanation rests in the relative availability/lack thereof of fresh spinach in different regions and in different eras (think about canned spinach and you can see what I mean). There are other explanations, as well. For example, heartier greens that could be cooked for a long time with bits of pork have long been a favorite in the south; growing and cooking spinach is a relatively labor-intensive proposition, and you don't get much bang for your buck, i.e., poor source of calories for the manual laborer; often spinach is overcooked; many other greens, including wild ones that we don't generally eat today, were more popular; and the list goes on...

A few final notes:

-- A small-leaved spinach was cultivated in the American colonies; however, it was not until the late 1800s that a more appealing variety was developed

-- Beeton’s Book of Household Management, published in 1861, includes recipe for "Spinach Dressed with Cream" (not quite what we mean by creamed spinach, however...)

-- Boston's famous LockeOber restaurant has had creamed spinach on the menu since 1875....

Let's be honest about America and vegetables. Americans in general can't cook vegetables (of course there are exceptions). Yes, I know I'm going very far with that statement, but compared to any cuisine in the world American renditions of vegetables are just poor.

I thought it was funny when you said artichokes, eggplants, and asparagus are the vegetables ranked lowest. That list IMHO is a list of the best vegetables you can use in cooking - spinach included.

Italian cuisine uses those exact vegetables the most, and they are great dishes. Mediterranean, Arabic, and Persian cuisines also use those vegetables in many great dishes. Indian and Chinese cuisine can take eggplant and spinach and make some great dishes. Those seem to be the most used vegetables in many other cultures.

In America people take some sweet corn and douse it in butter, that's not even fair. I bet corn is the number one used vegetable in the US. It's sweet and has a lot of butter, anything would taste good prepared like that. Then you have steamed broccoli with with melted cheese, again flavorless broccoli just loaded with cheese that is the only source of flavor in that dish. No wonder Americans don't like vegetables. IMHO, they generally don't know how to cook them.

I'm a sucker for creamed spinach just like anyone else, I love it, but it's really just got to be good when the dish has more fat than vegetable.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

The Four Seasons Grill Room

I made it every day for six months. Reduce five quarts of cream in a steam jacketed kettle until thick, a little burnt tasting (for cream) and almost broken but not quite.

We used frozen spinach leaves. Use good quality frozen, the lesser stuff has too much stem. Lizziee's right. After thoroughly defrosting them, break 'em up into balls and squeeze 'em 'till your eyballs burst from their sockets.

Twice grind the squoze spinach through a hobart meat grinder (small holes).

Heat some whole butter until it just begins to become noisette. Add the ground spinach. Be careful 'cause the spinach will suck the butter right up. You'll want to use quite a bit of butter.

Add the cream. Some freshly grated nutmeg. Add nutmeg till you can taste it. S&P to taste, and the secret ingredient...Demi-Glace...Good rich demi-glace. Rich enough to be close to glace de viande.

That's it. Steam table and serve. Add more cream if it tightens up on you.

amounts? I dunno. Say 5# frozen spinach (which isn't gonna yield that much cause of all the water). Say a pound of butter, say 3 quarts of cream. Nutmeg, S&P to taste. Eight oz (?) demi.

Might work, might not. I currently make this in 60 pound batches (spinach). The equivilent fresh product would be pretty cumbersome, which is why I use frozen. Even for home use (which I am not qualified to post on), it seems that to get enough blanched and squoze spinach for 4 hungry people is gonna translate into a heap of cello-pak triple washed.

edit: When I ate at Luger's, it looked like cream or milk to me. The color was also very nice. I thought they used fresh spinach.

Nick

I tried a scaled down approximation of this recipe with fresh spinach, and it was excellent. The recommendations for reducing the cream until it's "almost burnt" and to use slightly browned butter were right on the mark, and the demi glace added some extra depth. I used cream from Milk Thistle dairy, which comes from Jersey cows and probably has a higher fat content than most supermarket cream, so that was a likely factor.

I'd estimate my quantities were a half cup of cream for a 10 oz bag of spinach roughly chopped, maybe four tablespoons butter (two or three would have been adequate), and two tablespoons demi glace (one tablespoon would have been enough for this quantity of spinach actually). To keep the spinach green, I just wilted it in the butter in a saute pan, transferred the spinach to the saucepan with the reduced cream, reduced the remaining liquid from the pan with the spinach and mixed them all together, and left it covered with the heat off until just about ready to serve and then reheated on the lowest fire for about 10 minutes (i.e., while the steak was resting). Yield was about 2-3 good sized side servings.

Thanks, Nick!

Edited by David A. Goldfarb (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

This is pretty close to how I do it. Blanch fresh spinach, drain and squeeze, then cook in butter and garlic. Add cream and reduce to desired thickness then season and grate nutmeg. This is the first and only recipe I've used--I got it from the Joy of Cooking. It's simple and it works.

nunc est bibendum...

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's sort of how I used to do it, but I think the key detail in Nick's version is to reduce the cream almost completely before combining it with the spinach, rather than adding the spinach and then reducing, so the spinach stays really fresh and green.

This reminds me of another contender for the best creamed spinach in New York, which may not be in fact creamed, but serves a similar function and is really good, and that's the Super Green Spinach at Bar Boulud. I haven't had it in over a year, so I don't recall exactly, but it was a really fresh tasting bright green spinach. I don't recall whether it had cream. It may have just been lightly blanched spinach blended in a VitaMix, or it may have used something like chlorophyll extract to get that intense green color. Here's Florence Fabricant's theory of super green spinach--

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/dining/13pair.html?pagewanted=all

Link to post
Share on other sites
Then you have steamed broccoli with with melted cheese, again flavorless broccoli just loaded with cheese that is the only source of flavor in that dish.

This is a perfect example of why there can never be a best version of anything. People's perception of taste varies too widely for it to be possible even without factoring in personal preference. I have just the opposite view of broccoli. I like it but, rather than flavorless, I think the flavor is too strong for most uses. I will eat it as a side with just a little butter and salt but I very rarely like it as an ingredient in a dish because the flavor usually takes over the entire dish.

As for creamed spinach, I like it but I can't vote because I've never eaten it in NYC.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...