Posted by: Erica Retrochef | November 14, 2011

Spinach De Luxe

Our final recipe to use up leftover evaporated milk is the other half of last week’s retro recipe attempt (Carrot Rice Pudding). And yes, that finally does mean I’m a week ahead again! Let’s see if we can keep this up through the holidays.

WHITE HOUSE SPINACH DE LUXE

1 pound spinach
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup spinach water
1/2 cup White House [evaporated milk]
1 cup grated cheese
4 slices bacon

Wash spinach carefully. Add salt. Cook spinach with only the water clinging to leaves. Drain. Measure liquid, add water to make 1/2 cup. Combine with White House Milk. Place alternate layers of spinach, cheese, and milk mixture in shallow greased casserole. Top with bacon slices. Bake in moderate oven, 375 F., for 35 minutes or until bacon is crisp. 4 servings.

Spinach De Luxe is one of those dishes that visually scare me. My mother, despite good intentions, was pretty bad at cooking. She also worked. So a lot of her standard main and side dishes were from the freezer. The worst was fried clams that tasted like breaded rubber bands. A close runner-up was “spinach soufflé,” which took the worst characteristics of both soufflés and spinach and combined them into one sad, unappealing green blob. I still can’t look at any cooked spinach without mentally cringing, even when I know it’s going to taste infinitely better than my memories.

Although, I’ll admit — I don’t know how this is going to turn out. Maybe my fear of green sludge will be justified.

I didn’t have fresh spinach on hand, but did manage to dig a pound of frozen chopped spinach out of the freezer. (I didn’t expect it to be quite so finely chopped, though.)

Draining the spinach yielded exactly 1/2 cup of “spinach water,” so we didn’t add any extra water.

For “cheese,” I grated up some leftover gouda. This is becoming an excellent use of leftovers!

Layering turned out to be slightly challenging. A pound of chopped spinach doesn’t take up very much volume, but I did manage to stretch it into two thin layers.

I used five slices of bacon rather than four, just to cover the entire surface. And then, it went in the oven to bake.

It took longer than 35 minutes to crisp the bacon; it’s generally difficult to get bacon truly crisp if you’re letting it sit in its own fat (or sit on top of cheesy spinach milk, for that matter).

I also forgot to account for the bacon shrinking. (Oh well.)

This tasted really good! Everybody’s first bite was sort of reluctant (it isn’t a beautiful thing, even if you weren’t traumatized by spinach as a child) but even the pickiest child, at first declaring she didn’t like it (and liked bites including bacon “even worse”), ended up cleaning her plate. She claimed she was just being polite, although I don’t necessarily believe that.

To really make this dish a winner, I recommend leave out 1/2 cup of liquid — there was some debate whether the “spinach water” or evaporated milk were less helpful, but either way Spinach De Luxe came out rather on the squishy side. I think using a nice cheese was a big help for its overall flavor, and the bacon is a great contrast on top. Also consider breaking your bacon into smaller pieces, rather than just having a meat layer on top; it will be easier to eat and serve.

Adorable milk-hawking infant brought to you by White House Milk, and preserved online in bluwmongoose’s Flickr stream.

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Responses

  1. Looks good. I also think that non frozen spinach might reduce the ‘squish’ factor as it’s drier.

    I make a similar think in a frying pan: spinach, bacon (in little chunks) and a little creme fraiche (with cheese or even blue cheese) warmed through at the end- like you say, it ain’t pretty but it tastes nice!

  2. Now, THIS I could do. Although the cheese seems weird, we put baco-bits in spinach all the time, so at least we know the flavors automatically mesh. I think that frozen spinach must be the root of my childhood traumas; I can handle it better fresh and unminced, where it doesn’t look pre-digested. (Erg.)

  3. I want to make this. In the immortal words of–well, everyone–bacon makes everything better.
    I think that fresh spinach would’ve made all the difference, moisture-wise.

  4. It’s reassuring to know that sometimes these recipes from the past sound just as good today!

    Thanks for sharing, Erica…

  5. There’s not a thing wrong with the main ingredients, they’re all there for a delicious spinach dish where you can hardly taste the spinach! Make the spinach dryer, eliminate the milk, crispy up the bacon separately. Nom!


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