Nothing I write could beat this true story. Not today.
I know, okay? I know. You think this is a little crazy. An Indian staple on your Thanksgiving table? Making CHEESE? Oh sure, girls, maybe while we’re at it, we should just add a few burritos rolled in handmade corn tortillas and throw in a few souffles too, ya lunatics.
Here’s the thing though. Spinach- very much a green vegetable. Ginger- a warm, holiday spice. And heavy cream- the Thanksgiving Day Chef’s very best friend. And yeah, a delicious, soft, Indian cheese mixed in. It’s a little out there but it’s freaking delicious and this is THANKSGIVING- we’ll do what we want. Ya dig?
The SKS Thanksgiving recipe collection
Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows | Butternut Squash Soup | Sugar and Spice Cocktail Nuts | No Knead Dinner Rolls | Apple Crumb Pie | Mad Easy Chocolate Pecan Pies | Apple Crisp | Almond Crunch Pumpkin Cheesecake | Multicultural Stuffing (new!) | Pear Cornmeal Cake with Rosemary Syrup (new!)
Saag Paneer (Spinach With Fresh Indian Cheese)
For the cheese (or 7 oz. of store-bought paneer)
8 Cups of milk
1/4 Cup of fresh lemon juice
6 Tablespoons of ghee or canola oil
For the spinach
4 Cloves of garlic
1 (1″) piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 serrano chile, stemmed and chopped
6 Cups of finely chopped spinach
Kosher salt, to taste
6 Tablespoons of heavy cream
1/2 Teaspoon of garam masala
1/4 Teaspoon of cayenne
Indian flatbread or rice, for serving
Make the cheese
1. Line a colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth, draping it over sides and set in a sink.
2. Bring milk to just under a boil in a 4-qt saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon to prevent it from scorching. Reduce heat to medium-low, add juice, and gently stir until large curds form, about 30 seconds.
3. Pour milk mixture into colander and gently rinse off under cold running water any foam and residual lemon juice from curds. Gather corners of cheesecloth together and gently squeeze out liquid.
4. Tie opposite corners of cheesecloth together to make a sack, and hang it from a large kitchen spoon suspended over a deep bowl. Set aside at room temperature until excess liquid has thoroughly drained from cheese, about 1 and 1/2 hours.
5. Transfer sack to a plate, untie cheesecloth and loosely drape corners over cheese. Place a large heavy pot on top of cheese, set aside for 30 minutes.
6. Cut into 1/2″ and 1″ pieces.
7. Heat ghee in a 12″ nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add cheese and fry until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer cheese to a plate and set aside; reserve skillet with ghee.
Make the spinach
8. Place garlic, ginger, chiles and 1/4 cup of water into blender and puree into a smooth paste. Return skillet with ghee to stove and heat over medium-high heat.
9. Add ginger-garlic paste, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
10. Add spinach, salt to taste, and cook, stirring often, until spinach wilts, about 1 minute.
11. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring often, until spinach is very soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in cream, garam masala, and cayenne.
12. Add cheese to skillet, cover, and continue cooking until liquid thickens and spinach is soft, about 15 minutes. Serve with flatbread or rice, if you like. (Or turkey and the fixins.)