Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Spinach-Cheese Crepes With Bacon

Gentle reader, remember how I told you that I made spinach-cheese sauce … and that I would tell you what I did with it … and that it would involve bacon? Well, let this post go on the record as proof that I do not lie to you.

This crepe main dish is the latest episode in my ongoing quest to negate any and all health benefits involved in eating green vegetables. Yes, I actually took spinach and mushrooms and made them as cholesterolicious as a croque monsieur. Look, I had some bits of Swiss and some other sharp cheese that was getting crusty around the edges, so what else COULD I do? As the French, who invented crepes and cheesy sauces (I think) would say, je ne regrette rien. (That’s French for “sorry, not sorry.”)

I premade the sauce by cooking some bacon on medium until tender, not crispy, in a saucepot, and draining off the grease but leaving the wee brown bits. I then added half a stick of butter and once melted and bubbly, stirred in a chopped half shallot and 4 mushrooms sliced thin, with those slices then halved.

Once the shallot and mushroom were softened, I added some flour and turned up the heat to medium-high, using a whisk to help form the roux (which is another French word, meaning “ze stuff that makes ze cheese sauce not be lumpy,” BTW). Once it had some brownness to it, I whisked in about a cup of milk (having informed my adopted son that I was using the milk he bought and he would have to buy more if he wanted Cookie Crisp), followed by maybe a cup worth of minced Swiss-and-miscellaneous cheese.

It started getting pretty sticky and viscous, so I lowered the heat and added half a bag of chopped frozen spinach straight from the freezer, figuring (correctly) that the water content of undefrosted frozen spinach would for once be an asset and not a liability, to thin the consistency. I also added the juice of half a lemon, a spritz of white wine, and the grating of fresh nutmeg that I consider a must in any dish involving cheese/cream sauce or spinach, and especially both.

I cooked this down a bit, whisking, and then turned off the heat and let it sit in the fridge overnight because I was going to reheat it the next night. If you want to use this the same night, keep whisking on medium-low till the cheese is evenly melted.

Fast-forward to the crepes. I whisked together 3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, and a pinch of salt all at once, using a spout-rim bowl so as to easily and non-drippily pour batter into the butter-greased pan. The pan I use is a heated small nonstick frying pan with curved edges, so that I can pick up the pan and swish it around by the handle for an even crepe shape. For each crepe, I keep a ramekin of melted butter by the side of the burner and basically dump the whole thing into the pan over mediun heat, swish it around to coat the surface and sides, and pour the remainder back into the ramekin. Once it gets a bit bubbly-sizzly, I pour in the batter and also swish this around to coat, then let it rest until the edges start to get a bit crisped and use a plastic spatula to nudge them off the pan sides before digging under to flip the crepe. (Your first crepe might be the sacrificial lamb as you calibrate the heat level and amount of batter. Don’t stress. Remember: There’s no use crying over spilled milk; you can’t make crepes without breaking some eggs; and, um … some other motivational metaphorical-yet-literal failure-consolation expression involving wasted flour. There must be at least one in some cultural tradition or another, amirite, gentle reader?

I did these one by one, leaving the finished crepes to snuggle in a pile in the toaster oven, encased by loosely tented tinfoil. Then I added the reheated-on-low filling, folded/rolled the crepes around it, and sprinkled with the bacon pieces. I garnished the dish with arugula, because greens are good for you. (The arugula was an afterthought, so I didn’t have time to consider how to make it not good for you.)

However, overall this decadent dish succeeded spectacularly in converting spinach into something unhealthy. This would be a very impressive brunch dish; you could fill the crepes in advance and reheat them nestled in a ceramic or glass baking dish.

This rich spinach-cheese sauce would also be great baked in a lasagna, folded into a quiche, tucked inside a tomato omelet, tossed with clams and linguini, or served atop split baked potatoes (all with or without bacon/pancetta). Or you could up the spinach ratio by using the whole bag, and serve it alongside steak as creamed spinach—a classic side that is an inspiration to everyone who has ever resolved to render green vegetables irredeemably unhealthy. Tout m'est égal. Bon appetit!

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