Can you believe it's November? Halloween is behind us and we had a crazy few weeks leading up to All Hallow's Eve. Now, I feel like the holiday season is upon us. In a few short weeks, it will be Thanksgiving and the true madness of the season will begin.
This is the first year that we are not going to see my family for Thanksgiving in several years. It's also the very first year that we are not going to a big gathering. It'll just be the four of us. Which, face it. With two small kids, means I'll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner for two of us. The kids can eat a lot, but combined, they don't even eat as much as one adult.
I'm not sure I know how to make Thanksgiving dinner for just the four of us. There are so many Thanksgiving day side dishes that I absolutely love. I could really eat just the sides. But I will be cooking a full size turkey for Thanksgiving because the left overs are really why I make turkey.
I decided though, so that I don't feel like I missed anything by not having a big Thanksgiving dinner that I am going to make one or two Thanksgiving favorites each week leading up to the holiday. When there are only 2-4 people having dinner, there is just no need to make 10 side dishes. This week, I made this creamed spinach. I've never had this for Thanksgiving, but had thought of adding it to the menu. I will definitely have it again, but I'm glad I didn't save it for Thanksgiving. My old favorites remain my favorites.
I really do love creamed spinach and with the addition of lardon, how could that be bad, right? I am not the biggest fan of pearl onions, however. That may be what I didn't dig about this. I even halved them, as I usually do when something calls for pearl onions. The whole thing was very rich and more time consuming than I had hoped it would be, which is why I won't add it to my Thanksgiving day menu. With so many other things to juggle, I don't love this enough to carve out the time for it.
We ended up having this and I made a "steakhouse at home" night. A little date at home after the kids went to bed. I grilled some petite filets and made some baked stuffed potatoes, too. A little red wine, and who needs a babysitter? This was definitely an indulgent meal, but every once in a while that's not such a bad thing!
Creamed Spinach with Bacon and Onions
adapted from Martha Stewart Holiday Season's Eatings
1 bag baby spinach, picked over and stems removed and chopped
1 cup frozen pearl onions, halved
5 tablespoons unsalted butter,
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
3 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/4 inch dice (sliced bacon would work fine as well)
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
fresh ground pepper and kosher salt to taste
Melt four tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, whisk until smooth. Whisking constantly, add the milk in a slow, steady stream. Bring to a boil, while whisking for about 1 minutes. Remove from heat.
Melt remaining one tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon, cook stirring constantly until browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in onions and spinach and toss until spinach is wilted. Add the reserved milk mixture and heavy cream. (I did not use all of the milk mixture. I only ended up using 3/4 of it.) Add nutmeg and cook, stirring until heated through and thickened, about 10 minutes. Do not boil. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve warm.