An Unexpected Thanksgiving Side That Takes Just 16 Minutes

Bonus: It frees up valuable space in your oven. Watch Amanda's live demo on the Food Network Kitchen app for tips on making perfect creamed spinach.

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If you have never thought of creamed spinach as a side for Thanksgiving, Chopped judge Amanda Frietag thinks it’s time to start: “I actually like creamed spinach on my Thanksgiving table. It’s a side that’s a little bit unexpected ... It’s just simple and delicious.” You also might choose her creamed spinach if you need a quick side. Amanda recently made her Classic Creamed Spinach live on the Food Network Kitchen app and it took all of 16 minutes from start to finish. Bonus, it doesn’t take up valuable oven space like other side dishes. We’re talking to you, roasted Brussels sprouts!

To start, you need to blanch your spinach in boiling water, all two pounds of it. You may think two pounds of spinach is a hefty amount, but “it cooks down to nothing very quickly,” says Amanda. Use baby spinach, which will cook quicker than more mature spinach and doesn't require you to remove the stems. A brief dunk in boiling water is all you need. Then, set it aside to cool while you make the sauce.

For the base of the béchamel, a classic French sauce, Amanda creates a blonde roux, which is basically just butter and flour cooked until the flour is no longer raw. Also, cooking the flour and butter develops gluten to help thicken the sauce properly. If you’ve tossed cream and spinach together praying for that creamy texture you get from a nice steakhouse side, only to be let down, this is the step that you’re missing. Once the roux is blonde in color, hence the name, milk and cream are slowly added to the mixture while whisking to prevent lumps. “Make sure it comes together before you add more liquid,” says Amamda. Then heat the sauce slowly until it thickens, keeping the heat low so that it doesn't break, or separate.

While the sauce is thickening, Amanda sweats onions and garlic; she doesn’t saute them. “I don’t want any color on these, because I want that beautiful creamy look of creamed spinach,” explains Amanda. Finally, she squeezes as much liquid as possible out of the spinach.

Then it all comes together. Add the onions and garlic to the sauce and stir in the spinach, breaking it up as you go. “This is where it gets exciting," she declares. "This is where I like cooking… where it all comes together… The magic of sauce on vegetables.”

While this Classic Creamed Spinach does come together quickly it does require good cooking technique. Follow the video to see how Amanda gets it just right.

Happy cooking!

Watch new epiosdes of Chopped Tuesdays at 9|8c.

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