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Creamed Spinach with Crabmeat and Lemon

(recipe, Adam Ried)

Introduction

Though creamed spinach is typically considered a side dish, the crabmeat in this version nudges it toward main-dish territory. Top each serving with a poached or fried egg and serve a hunk of baguette (or buttered English muffins) alongside, and you have a very satisfying lunch or light dinner. I prefer the texture of creamed spinach made with mature, crinkly leaves, as opposed to baby spinach.

Ingredients

  1. 3 lb. fresh spinach, large tough stems removed, leaves washed and partially dried (some water should cling)
  2. 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  3. 7 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (about 1½ Tbsp.)
  4. 3 large shallots, finely chopped
  5. Salt and ground black pepper
  6. 2 Tbsp. flour
  7. 2 cups half-and-half
  8. ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  9. 1 lemon (2 tsp. finely grated zest and 1 Tbsp. juice), plus lemon wedges for serving
  10. 8 oz. high-quality lump crabmeat, picked over for shell fragments

Steps

  1. Working in batches, cook the spinach in a very large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, turning it constantly with tongs until well wilted, about 3½ minutes per large batch. As each batch finishes cooking, transfer it to a colander set over a large bowl to drain.
  2. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, spread a clean dishtowel on a work surface, place the spinach in the center, gather the edges and corners, and, working over a large bowl to catch the liquid, twist hard to wring out as much liquid as possible. Reserve about 1 cup of liquid (discard the rest or save it for stock).
  3. Empty the spinach onto a cutting board, roughly chop it, break it up with your fingers (you should have about 5 cups), and set aside.
  4. Return the skillet to medium heat, add the butter, and heat until melted and the bubbling subsides. Add the anchovy, shallots, and ½ tsp. salt, and cook, stirring, until the shallots soften, about 1½ minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until light gold, about 1½ minutes longer.
  5. Whisking constantly, gradually add the half-and-half and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and ground black pepper to taste, and continue to cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes longer.
  6. Add the spinach and ½ cup reserved spinach liquid and stir to incorporate. Add the lemon zest and juice and crabmeat and cook, stirring, to heat the spinach through, about 3 minutes.
  7. Taste and adjust the texture with additional spinach liquid and seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve with lemon wedges.