Step into my work office and ask me to reverse engineer a project and you are going to get The Look. The Look is the serious face, one eyebrow raised. The look is accompanied by The Line, "You know, it's a lot easier to just do it right the first time."
I don't get as many visitors to my office this way.
Still, reverse engineering has it's place especially when it comes to family dinners. Seems like a few folks at the table are adamant about certain dishes being on the menu, and others of us insist on trying new things. Not too many Thanksgiving dishes hold this honor as much as Green Bean Casserole.
I will admit that I have never been excited about the mushy result of canned green beans, canned soup, canned crunchy onions, and cornflakes. The whole dish is like a tribute to the processed food industry. Let's un-process it, shall we? The final result will be crisp green beans, lots of mushroom goodness, fresh herbs, and a bread crumb, caramelized onion and Parmesan crust. It's good enough to make me forget all about any previous version.
Best Ever Real Green Bean Casserole
2 lbs. fresh green beans
2 shallots, minced
3/4 pounds cremini or other gourmet mushroom, chopped
2 tbs. fresh thyme (or 1 tbs. dried thyme)
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup 2 percent milk
2 tbs. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 caramelized onion (recipe here)
1-1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan
Blanch the green beans for 2 minutes, shock in ice bath immediately to stop cooking. Chop green beans into 1-2 inch pieces. Set in a layer in a 9x13 casserole dish.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Add the shallot and saute for a couple minutes. Add the mushrooms and the thyme and saute until the mushrooms are softened and the shallot is golden, about 7 minutes. Add the flour and saute for another 2 minutes.
Add the cream and stir to mix. Add the milk. Season with salt and pepper, cook on lower heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Pour over the green beans, tossing to coat. Spread into an even layer.
Place the bread crumbs and Parmesan in a bowl and mix together. Add the onions and toss to coat evenly. Spread the onion and bread crumb layer evenly over the green beans.
You can prep up to this point and refrigerate. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake casserole for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden brown and crisp. Serve with the gratitude that you ate something real.