Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Nina, the Pinta, and the Spinach Maria

I couldn't stand spinach as a kid. It was all ick with a side of ewwwwwww.

But now one of my favorite side dishes is Spinach Maria. It's a rich, creamy, yet spicy casserole. It is a perfect sidekick to beef roasts and steaks. Once I even mixed some Spinach Maria in twice baked red bliss potatoes and it was crazy good!

I first found Spinach Maria about 10 years or more ago. It was bundled in an import from Meal Master software. Here is that recipe (now in my BigOven software), Spinach Maria. There's also this alleged knock off of local restaurant, Calhoun's Spinach Maria. It looks good too but I prefer the first recipe for it's simplicity.

Yesterday I tried this version that was in the paper last week from Big Fatty's Catering Kitchen. On restaurant reviews people raved over their spinach maria.

Spinach Maria ala Big Fatty's Catering Kitchen.

8 ounce cream cheese
3 cups heavy whipping cream
2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen spinach (thawed, and excess water squeezed out)
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
Salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
granulated garlic

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat cream cheese and whipping cream on low heat and whisk until mixture is smooth.

Add spinach, soup mix and seasonings to cream cheese mixture. Stir until fully combined.
Pour into greased casserole dish and bake for 50 minutes.
It was a lot runnier than ours at this point. I didn't want it to taste better than mine. They used a packaged soup mix for pete's sake! But I have to admit, this was some good stuff, at least just as good as ours;)
We used about 1 teaspoon of each for "to taste" for the pepper, salt, and granulated garlic. It wasn't pretty but it was fantastic. Next time I would cook & serve it in individual ramekins.

The rest of the plate?
Oh, that:) It was a little rib roast that crusted with coarse kosher salt for 1 hour.
[I should have trimmed the fat wedge off before seasoning and cooking, then tied it. That's why part is medium and part is medium rare. Lesson learned.]Then I rinsed it off, dried it, and rubbed it with the cajun beef rub is the same one I used here. Then I cooked it with indirect heat on the Big Green Egg at 350 for just over two hours. The smoke was from Jack Daniels oak chips. I LOVE JD oak chips, they are made from actual whiskey barrells, have a great fragrance and put off a nice smoke. I highly recommend them. The drip pan underneath it catches the drippings for an awesome au jus dipping sauce.I pulled the roast off to rest once it hit 130f internal. I normally like mine more rare but my son's girlfriend is a BAD FOOD PERSON....errrr...I mean she doesn't care for rare or even medium rare (ha ha). So I compromised and did medium rare, the put her cut back on for a few minutes.
The potatoes are roasted red bliss potatoes with garlic & rosemary from this post.

Yeah, not a "Jenny Craig" meal, but I thought of that in advance and ran 3.2 miles at Cherokee in Knoxville earlier that day as a pre-emptive attack:)