Ridiculous Spinach

March 20, 2015

Les Epinards du Chanoine Chevrier 

as recounted by Elizabeth David in Mediterranean Food

“…Brillat-Savarin was intrigued by this spinach cooked in butter.  Here is the famous secret. 

On Wednesday (for Sunday): choose your spinach, young leaves, neither too old nor in flower, of a good green with their middle ribs.  In the afternoon clean the spinach, removing the stalks, and wash it carefully. When it is tender, drain it in an enamel or china colander; drain out as much water as possibly by pressing the leaves firmly down in the sieve; then chop them finely.

Now put into the a pan (enamel or glazed earthenware) with some fine fresh butter and put on to a very low fire. For a pound of spinach allow 1/4 pound of butter.  Let them cook gently for 30 minutes, then take them off the fire and let them cool in the same pan. They are not to be served today. 


Thursday:  Add another ounce and a half of butter to the spinach and cook again for 10-15 minutes over a very low fire. Again, leave them to get cold.  They are not to be served yet.

Friday:  Exactly the same operation as the previous day. Do not be tempted.

Saturday: Again the same operation.  Beware of temptation; the spinach will be giving out a wonderful aroma. 

Sunday: At last the day for your guests has arrived.  A quarter of an hour before you intend serving dinner, put the spinach again over a low flame, with two good ounces of butter, for 10-12 minutes.  This time take them out of their pan and put them in a warmed vegetable dish and serve them very hot. 

In the course of five daily cookings, your pound of spinach has absorbed 10 1/2 ounces of butter.  Such was the Abbe Chevrier’s secret.   

Elizabeth David adds: “It is advisable to cook at least 2 or 3 pounds if all this performance is to be gone through. The given amount of butter will still impart a good flavor to the spinach.  

I think even Thurber (whose famous New Yorker cartoon was, "I say it's spinach. And I say to hell with it.") might have been impressed.

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