David and I love to eat at The Palm. Yes, it’s a chain, but it’s so NOT a chain. We know the management and the wait staff and we always have such a good time when we go. (Actually, David’s father used to take him to the original Palm in New York when he was a boy, so it’s full of fun memories for him.)
But the truth is, the beef served at the finer steak house chains (The Palm, Morton’s, Fleming’s, etc.) is corn-fed, which means the cow was probably given antibiotics and hormones before it went to be slaughtered, because cows shouldn’t eat corn…it makes them sick. Cows should primarily eat grass, although many people don’t think grass-fed beef tastes as good as corn-fed beef. This is obviously both a complicated and an ethical issue, however, one that I suggest you delve deeper into if you care about your health.
On a much lighter note, I do love the sides at steak houses. Creamed spinach is my all time favorite. And I bet that even if you don’t love spinach, you’ll eat creamed spinach, right? But, really, who wouldn’t? It’s full of cream, butter and, often times, cheese, and just a little spinach for color. What’s not to love about that? I agree that it tastes good, but, to be honest with you, my friend, traditional creamed spinach is not good for you.
So, here’s an alternative to the fat laden, gloppy, messy, heartburn-inducing creamed spinach you find at a fancy steak house.
I’ve been eating this creamed spinach since I was a kid. The recipe comes from my grandmother’s best friend, Dr. Marion Primomo (who is responsible for bringing the concept of hospice to San Antonio so many years ago–thanks, Marion!). It’s not bad for you and it’s soooo very good, you’ll never know what’s missing.
And since I’ve been truly slacking on giving you healthy recipes, here’s one you need to print and save to cook and repeat often.
Creamed spinach was one of the dishes my grandmother made for me and I adored her for it. Though the traditional steakhouse may use a lot more butter and salt, this version is something you can enjoy at home without the guilt that you may be cheating.
- 1 package frozen spinach preferably organic, cooked and drained or 2 bunches fresh spinach, washed, stems removed and lightly sauteed, and then chopped a bit to cut up the larger leaves
- 2 tablespoons melted bacon grease although I use a combination of olive oil and butter (1 tablespoon of each)
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cup milk I use fat free milk, but use whatever you have as the more fat content the milk has the richer and tastier the creamed spinach will be, you may need a little more milk
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated
- Parmesan cheese freshly grated (optional)
Either cook the frozen spinach as directed on the package or lightly saute the fresh spinach over medium heat in 1 tablespoon olive oil.
And remember that spinach wilts into nothing, so just because you think you've got too much, it will shrink and you'll be left with a perfect amount. See? Just right.
Remove the spinach from the pan and set aside. Wipe the pan clean. If using fresh spinach, chop the spinach now.
Add 2 tablespoons of bacon grease or combo of 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter and let melt. Stir until combined. Add the diced onion and saute for 2 minutes. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of flour over the melted oils and stir. It will clump together, but just keep stirring and mashing up the lumps. (This is called a roux, which is made by adding oil and flour, and is a great way to thicken any sauce or make gravy.)
Cook until it turns a nice golden or brown color, about 5-7 minutes. Watch it carefully, and stir continuously.
Add 1/2 milk and whisk to get any lumps out. Let it cook about 3 minutes, until it thickens. Depending on how thick it is, you may want to add just another glug or two of milk, as you do not want it to be like paste, but rather a bechamel sauce.
Add 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg, a little salt and pepper (white pepper, if you're a purist), stir to combine and then return the cooked spinach to the pan. Stir until the spinach has absorbed the cream sauce. Taste to see if you need a add any more salt or pepper. Top with a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Serve immediately, preferably with a perfectly grilled steak (grass-fed, please), pork chop, lamb chops or other meat of choice. Or, in my case, a salad and some oven rosemary fries.