This recipe was published by the Knoxville News Sentinel and is 'the' recipe for Spinach Maria. It is pure Heaven in every bite!
5 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach
4 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 3/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
5 tablespoons melted butter
6 tablespoons flour
8ounces Velveeta cheese
8 ounces cheddar cheese
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (for topping)
Thaw spinach in refrigerator for 24 hours. Squeeze as much excess water as possible out of spinach. Heat milk and spices in 4-quart saucepan on medium heat to just below a boil (190 degrees). Then reduce heat and simmer. Saute chopped onion in 1 tablespoon butter on medium heat for 5-8 minutes. Add to saucepan. Combine 5 tablespoons melted butter with flour in a small suate pan. (This is the first step of making a roux, which will thicken the sauce.) Mix until completely blended. Cook on low heat 3-4 minutes to make roux. Add roux to milk in saucepan and mix well. Continue to cook until sauce thickens.
Cut Velveeta, cheddar and Jack cheese into small cubes and add to saucepan. Continue to mix until all the cheese is completely melted and blended into sauce. Be careful not to burn the sauce while cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Add drained spinach to cheese sauce, mix until completely blended. Spoon into 11-by-9-by-2-inch casserole dish and top with grated Monterey Jack cheese. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, until hot and bubbly.