One side dish that my family loves is Green Bean Casserole. Over the holidays I made it ” from scratch”, and lightened it up by making a thinner mushroom sauce. I have been meaning to tell you about it, but there has been so much to cover I never got around to it. So while it’s fresh in my mind, let me share with you how I made it. It definitely does NOT contain canned or frozen green beans, or canned condensed cream of mushroom soup. What it does contain is fresh green beans, fresh mushrooms, cream sauce made with real cream and crisp fried onions. The fresh mushrooms give this dish a deep meaty flavor that just doesn’t compare with the canned soup version. We all thought it was wonderful, and maybe you will, too.
NOT THE CLASSIC (YOUR MOTHER’S) GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
Yield: Serves 6, or more if a) you have lots of sides on the table or b) use the higher amount (1.5 – 2 pounds) of green beans.
- 2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. panko or plain breadcrumbs
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- canola, safflower, or other high-heat oil, for frying
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 12 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced or coarsely chopped
- few gratings fresh nutmeg (optional)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
1. 1 to 2 pounds green beans, washed well, tips and tails removed. You may leave them whole or cut to desired length.
2. Make crispy onions: Toss onions with flour, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper. Heat 1/2-inch or so of oil in a 12-inch skillet until a drop of water flicked into it will hiss and sputter. Add onions, just a handful at a time in something close to a single layer, and fry until a light golden brown (they’ll get more color in the oven).
Remove with a large slotted spoon, letting oil drip off, back into the skillet. Spread onions out on paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining onions. Set aside until needed; this makes a lot.
3. Prepare the beans: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and boil beans for 5 minutes, till crisp tender. Drain beans, and rinse until cold water to stop the cooking action. Drain again, and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400*F Spray or lightly grease a large baking dish.
4. Make the mushroom sauce: Over medium-high heat, melt butter in the bottom of a 12-inch skillet. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and sauté them until they start releasing their liquid, about 3 – 5 minutes, depending on how you cut them. Add the garlic and sauté one minute more. Add the flour and stir it until it fully coats the mushrooms. Add the broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring the whole time.
Simmer mixture for 1 minute, then add cream and bring back to a simmer, cooking until the sauce thickens a bit about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. Assemble and bake: Add cooked green beans to sauce and stir until they are coated. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
Sprinkle crispy onions over the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and onions are a shade darker.
A few notes:
1. This makes a LOT of crispy onions. I didn’t mind, but you could probably make half the amount and stretch it over the whole casserole. If you make the full amount, you could save some of the excess for snacking or to put on those leftover turkey sandwiches.
2. The sauce is somewhat thin even though it does coat the beans. If you want it thicker so it coats and clings well to the beans, you can make it thicker by using 1 extra tablespoon butter and 1 extra tablespoon flour in the sauce–i.e. more roux makes thicker sauce. Also be sure to drain the beans well, and even perhaps pat them dry with paper towels, so they don’t liquify the sauce.
3. There is enough sauce in the recipe to adequately coat up to 2-pounds of beans, so if you like a more vegetable-heavy dish use the larger quantity of beans.
SOURCE: Adapted from Alton Brown, Food Network