Given that steak is such a dense heavy dish I never fully understood why steakhouse sides are always so heavy. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good baked potato with butter, sour cream, cheddar, bacon and chives, but it’s not exactly what I’d call a contrast up against a big hunk of grilled meat.
Creamed spinach is one of those steakhouse sides that I’ve always loved in theory (what’s not to like about a veggie that consists of more cream and butter than spinach?). But every time I tried to order it (usually in a steakhouse) I was so filled up by the headline act that the thick cloying side just didn’t work for me.
For my version, I went with another green veggie that has a bit more texture that could stand up to the bechamel. Instead of cream, I used milk, although you’re welcome to put the cream back in if you’ve been feeling a little skinny lately. I added gruyere to give it some more depth and a nice crusty top and since steak dinners have a certain decadence about them, I added some earthy truffle oil and shaved black truffles.
Honestly though you could leave the shaved truffles ($15 an ounce) out as a few drops of the truffle oil adds plenty of flavour at a much more reasonable price. Also, if you’ve never used truffle oil before, be careful, a little goes a long way and I find that too much oil makes stuff taste rather unpleasant.
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs flour
2/3 C milk (use 1/3 C milk and 1/3 C cream for something creamier)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp truffle oil
for the creamed chard
2 C cooked squeezed and chopped swiss chard (about 1 bunch)
1/2 C grated Gruyere
fresh ground black pepper
1 oz shaved black truffle (optional)
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add the flour and stir together to form a paste, continue to stir and cook for a minute or two. Take the pan off the heat and with a whisk in hand, add the milk and whisk until all the chunks of roux have dissolved.
Put the pan back over medium heat and stir with a silicon spatula making sure to scrape up the bottom and sides of the pan to keep the bechamel from burning. Add the salt and continue to cook and stir until it’s about the consistency of gravy. Take it off the heat then add the truffle oil stirring to combine.
For the chard, seperate the white stems from the leafy part and boil the stems in salted water until almost tender. Add the leaves and blanch for about 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water until it’s cool enough to handle. Grab a handful of chard and squeeze out enough water so the leaves aren’t watery.
Chop the chard up and add it to a bowl with the bechamel and about 1/4 cup of grated Gruyere. Mix in some fresh ground black pepper and taste for salt (adding more if need be). Add in the shaved black truffle then divide between 4 ramekins. Top with the rest of the Gruyere and put it under a broiler until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted and brown.
Sprinkle a bit of fleur de sel on top and serve.