Spinach with Bacon & Raisins

Original: Espinacas Picadas

You must take spinach and clean it, and wash it very well, and give it a brief boil with water and salt; then press it very well between two chopping-blocks, then chop it very small. And then gently fry it in bacon fat; and when it is gently fried, put it in a pot on the fire, and cook it; and cast in the pot: good broth of mutton, and of bacon which is very fatty and good, only the flower of the pot; and if by chance you wish it, in place of the broth, cast upon it milk of goats or sheep, and if not, of almonds; and take the bacon, and cut it into pieces the size of fingers, and cast them in the pot with the spinach; and depending on what the season it is, if you wish, cast in fresh cheese; you may do it likewise, like the abovementioned slices of bacon; and if you put in a great deal, do not put it in until the spinach is entirely cooked, and cast this in a little before dishing it out; and if you wish also to cast in tender raisins which are cooked, you can do it all around the spinach; and if you do not wish to put in these things, neither bacon nor grated cheese of Aragon, cast parsley and mint with it likewise; and the spinach will be better.
Source: An English Translation of Ruperto de Nola’s “Libre del Coch” (1529) by Lady Brighid ni Chiarain.

Redaction

2 packages frozen chopped spinach
5 strips bacon
1 cup raisins
1 cup stock (we used chicken)
1 cup water
  1. Thaw, drain and press water out of spinach.
  2. Panfry bacon, and as bacon is rendering, decant and reserve a few tablespoons of fat. Drain bacon on paper towels and break into small pieces.
  3. Pour boiling water over raisins, let sit for 1 minute then drain.
  4. Sauté spinach in reserved bacon fat for a few minutes, then add stock and sauté until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add raisins and bacon, stir briefly to combine and remove from heat.
We also a vegetarian version of this recipe omitting the bacon and substituting olive oil and vegetable stock.

Notes and Choices

We avoided boiling the spinach first, figuring that this step might be more for health reasons than for cooking reasons, and since the ‘boiled into submission’ variety of vegetable is a not-so-fondly remembered staple of our childhood. We chose broth instead of milk because we didn’t want to place almonds in yet another recipe and because dairy milk is rare in the cuisine. Indeed, there’s a fun little aside in one of the other recipes that says you could use milk of goat or sheep, or almond milk and then adds ‘but the milk of the almond is never lacking,’ perhaps implying that goat/sheep milk was uncommon. We skipped the cheese to control costs.

We also tried this recipe using the parsley and mint without bacon or cheese. We found the results rather boring.

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