If there is a vegetable side dish more old-school nostalgic than creamed spinach, I can’t think of it (if you can, tell me because I want to make it).
My grandfather and my father used to order it at their favorite steakhouse, the venerable Peter Luger’s, in Brooklyn (and in later years, Great Neck, LI). The menu was tiny – or at least in my mind it was, because they always got the exact same thing, a t-bone with Peter Luger’s Own Steak Sauce, and then the sauce was also poured over huge slabs of sliced tomato and raw onion, and then fried potatoes and of course creamed spinach.
The sides always came portioned for two people. Sometimes they also got a piece of bacon as an appetizer. Luger’s Sizzling Bacon, Extra Thick by the Slice. This was not a light meal.
Anyway, we forget about creamed spinach, because often it’s a bit on the decadent side, and not very sophisticated or cutting edge. So it’s been elbowed out of the way by kale salads. This a shame, because it’s delicious (ok, and when worlds collide, Creamed Kale with Parmesan is also pretty fantastic). And it makes me think of my dad and my grandpa, which is a little bit of an oucher, but also kind of nice.
I’ve been on a stuffed chicken thigh bender lately – it’s a simple and slightly elegant way to prepare this humble but wonderful chicken part. And it turns out, a nice way to get a little creamed spinach back into the equation. This recipe calls for frozen spinach, because that’s what I had, but of course you could also use 10 ounces of chopped fresh spinach, which will cook down to a small mound in a flash.
I see you looking at those Sweet Potato Fries. That’s ok, that’s what they are there for.
Creamed Spinach Stuffed Chicken Thighs
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach thawed
- Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- 8 chicken bone-in, skin-on thighs (about 2 ½ pounds)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Heat the butter in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat until melted. Sauté the onion for 2 minutes until it softens, then add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the spinach is cooked and most of the moisture is evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, if desired, and the cream cheese and cook for another few minutes until well combined and the cream cheese has melted and is well incorporated into the spinach, and slightly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan, and cool so that it’s just slightly warm or room temperature, and check for seasoning.
- Loosen the skin from each thigh, and place a couple of tablespoons of the spinach mixture under the skin, spreading it out beneath the skin, dividing it evenly between the thighs. Brush the skin with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (an internal temperature of 165°F). Serve hot or warm.
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