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Spinach au gratin a great holiday side

Unlike other holidays during the year, Thanksgiving seems to focus on the side dishes. Yes, the turkey takes center stage, but all Thanksgiving tables are laden with multiple and unique side dishes. The side dishes generally tend to be the same every year. For some of us it may be the only time we eat these dishes.

For me, part of the love of cooking is always cooking something new. Whenever I’m cooking dinner I always try to add at least one new twist, ingredient or recipe. I enjoy giving my readers some new flavors to try as well.

One of the things important about side dishes for Thanksgiving is the ability to make these dishes around the chaos in the kitchen.

When we remove the turkey from the oven, we can have as much as 30 minutes before the meat needs to go on the table. During those 30 minutes we can finish all of our sides including this one.

Spinach au Gratin

Servings 10+

3 Tbl unsalted butter

3 Tbl all-purpose flour

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 pint half-and-half

3 10 oz boxes frozen spinach, thawed with moisture squeezed out, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

24 oz mild cheddar cheese, shredded

8 oz chopped toasted walnuts, optional

Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and garlic, cook, making a roux. Add the half-and-half, whisking to remove any lumps. Bring to a simmer.

Add the spinach, breaking apart any lumps. Bring back to a simmer and gently cook for 5 to 7 minutes.

If mixture is too thick, add some milk to thin it. Add salt and pepper to your own personal taste.

Remove from heat, fold in the cheese and walnuts, place into a prepared (lightly buttered) 9-by-13 baking dish. Heat under the broiler until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Enjoy!

Anyone with questions or comments for Chef Darrel is welcome to call him at 630-235-0672.

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