This is a barely, updated version of a classic. Quite possibly my favorite casserole in all of the land, Thanksgiving or not. This recipe has been adapted from the classic Spinach Madeline in River Road Recipes from the Junior League of Baton Rouge, as well as a family friend’s recipe. I cannot have Thanksgiving without this, but would really appreciate having this several times a year.
2 packages frozen Chopped Spinach
4 Tbs. Butter (1/2 stick)
2 Tbs. Flour
1 c. Onion, diced
8 oz. Pepper Jack Cheese
1/2 c. Evaporated Milk (old school, I know!)
1/2 c. Liquid Reserved from cooking spinach, aka vegetable liquor
Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp. Celery Seed
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
8 oz. can of chopped Water Chestnuts, drained and diced
Several dashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce
Fried Onions for topping
Cook spinach, according to packaging.
Drain spinach and set aside while reserving 1/2 c. of “vegetable liquor.”
Chop onions, water chestnuts, cheese (into small cubes).
In medium size sauce pan melt butter, add flour, stirring until smooth. Add onions to this butter/flour combo; continue to stir and let onions soften (not brown). Add vegetable liquor and evaporated milk, slowly, stirring to thicken. Add cubes of cheese and all spices. Continue to stir. Add spinach and chopped water chestnuts.
Put mixture into 9×9 baker; best if this is made the day ahead to let season up overnight in the fridge.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350, adding fried onion topping after 15 minutes.
This can be doubled easily. It can also be made ahead and frozen.