Whitehall Club Creamed Spinach

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Established as a private-dining club in Chicago’s boutique Whitehall Hotel in 1956, The Whitehall Club was a fine-dining fixture for 40 years before it closed. That left LRF reader Dave Lauer with an insatiable craving for Whitehall Club creamed spinach. LRF reached out to now-Colorado-based Jason Rogers–one of the last sous chefs at the Club–who was happy to share the recipe. Built with an Escoffier-styled bechamel (white sauce steeped with onion, veal, nutmeg, clove and thyme,) this home-cook-sized version of the dish yields both creamy spinach, plus a serving of milk-braised veal–delicious mixed with orzo, or Israeli couscous.

Makes 5 servings

Creamed Spinach Ingredients

  • 1/4 to 1/2 lb lean veal (I used veal from a package of veal neck bones), diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 small sprig thyme
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 5, six-ounce bags of baby spinach, picked over, and any longer stems removed (NOTE: This sounds like a lot, but one package of baby spinach comes down to just 2/3 cup after you blanch, squeeze and chop it. And after making and straining the bechamel, you will end up with 1 and 2/3 cups of sauce–that’s a perfect 1/3 cup of bechamel for each 2/3 cup of spinach–hence, five servings)
  • splash of cream
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup (depending on how cheesy you like it) finely grated parmesan cheese and more fresh-grated nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a saute pan over medium heat on your stove top, saute onion and veal in butter until onion is soft, and veal browned.
  3. Place onion and veal in ovenable pan with salt, pepper, thyme, nutmeg and milk. Roast uncovered in oven at 350 for 40 minutes. A skin will form on the top, but don’t worry about that–you’re straining all of this.
  4. Pour all through strainer. Reserve solids and milk separately.
  5. Make roux: melt 3 Tbsp butter; whisk in 3 Tbsp flour. Slowly add reserved milk, whisking constantly to make a smooth sauce. Pass through strainer to make extra smooth, if you like.  Set aside.
  6. Boil 3 quarts water. Pour boiling water over spinach (15 seconds) to blanch. Remove spinach and squeeze out water. Finely chop spinach.
  7. Preheat oven to 425. Back at your stove top, add bechamel to saute pan; stir in finely grated parmesan. Stir in blanched, chopped spinach. Add a splash of cream. Cook, stirring over low heat 3 to five minutes. Add a bit more fresh-grated nutmeg to taste and adjust seasoning (salt/pepper). Spoon into an ovenable crock. Grate small amount of parmesan on top. Place in oven at 425 for 10 minutes until hot and bubbling. Serve.

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