Monday, November 19, 2012

Green Bean Casserole: The Way It's Meant to Be

By Kristen Barchers

Thanksgiving:  a day in which we are obligated to gorge ourselves on indulgent, soul-satisfying food until we can no longer see straight.  A day for cooks and foodies.  This is my day.  Well…this is usually my day.

This year, my husband, 18-month old son and I are braving the chaos of holiday airport travel to spend the week with extended family in Colorado. The beautiful mountain hikes and the sound of cousins playing are well worth the tiny bags of peanuts and miniscule seating we’ll endure (I’d add a crying baby to the list if we weren’t the ones now supplying said baby.)  And, while I can take a back seat role in the dinner preparation, there is one thing that I simply cannot relinquish control over- the green bean casserole.

Thanksgiving dinner means different things to different people. Some fantasize about juicy turkey legs or mashed potatoes and gravy. And who can blame the dessert lovers (myself included) for getting giddy over pumpkin or pecan pie.  But for me, it’s really all about the green bean casserole, and the tired old canned version simply will not do. The thought of smothering mushy canned green beans with a sludge of cream of mushroom soup is enough to make me want to skip dinner all together.

This recipe gives you green bean casserole the way you always hoped it could be. The way it’s meant to be. Fresh and fragrant with all of the rich comfort of the traditional version and none of the sludge.

Fresh Green Bean Casserole

Servings: 8


 6 c or 2 lbs fresh green beans
4 oz bacon (omit for a vegetarian dish)
2 TBS butter
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 c diced onion
1 tsp salt
1 TBS freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, crushed
½ c fresh sage, chopped
3 TBS flour
1 ½ c vegetable or chicken broth
1 c heavy cream
1 package fried onions (I used a natural brand from my local Whole Foods, but the 6 oz. cans of French’s fried onions are widely available in most grocery stores)


1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Rinse and trim green beans and snap in half. Place beans in a pot with a steamer basket and a few inches of water. Steam until beans are tender crisp. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven fry bacon until crispy.  Remove from pan and set aside. Leave bacon drippings in the pan.
4. Add butter and olive oil to the pan with the bacon drippings and heat on medium until butter is melted. Add diced onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté on medium heat until onions begin to soften and become translucent.
5. Add crushed garlic and sage and sauté another 2 or 3 minutes, until garlic becomes fragrant.
6. Sprinkle onions with flour, stir into mixture and sauté another 2 minutes.
7. Add broth and cream and cook on medium-low, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens.
8. Add green beans and bacon to the mixture and toss to coat thoroughly.
9. Pour green beans into a baking dish and top with fried onions. Bake approximately 20 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and top begins to brown.


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