Monday, November 17, 2008

The Best Ever, Real Green Bean Casserole

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.


Chiot's Run said...

I'll have to try this. I can't stand the fake casserole. Since Mr Chiots and I have sworn off processed foods this will be perfect!

lucy4 said...

I use to make green bean casserole the canned way but last year, I used fresh green bean but with the rest of the canned ingredients and it tasted a lot better. This year I think I am ready to go all natural. I mean, clothed though. Thanks for the recipe.

Anonymous said...

Yum. I can't wait to make this next week.

Rachel said...

yum. Fresh green beans are in season here, so I'm going to take advantage of this! BTW, did I tell you that the fava bean and pecorino recipe has converted DH, a hard-cre anti-fava crusader, into a believer? Seriously. I did switch the pecorino to fetta for added bribery power.

Rachel said...

hard core. That should be hard core.

Midwest Kitchen said...

How long can this rest in the fridge before cooking? Will the bread crumbs get soggy? I plan to make my own crumbs using a good local sourdough unless I get lazy!

ExpatChef said...

You can make this a few hours ahead and the crumbs will crisp right up in the oven. That's how I did it, and that's how I plan on managing it on Thanksgiving day! Good question.

Jennette said...

Looks yum! Cooks Illustrated created a great version, too. But they do use the canned onions (which I must admit I like).

Midwest Kitchen said...

I tried the recipe yesterday and all went well and was taking shape for a perfect taste treat but the beans came out too al dente. My mistake since I am used to thinner home grown summer tri-color beans grown locally and I did not blanch the thicker beans I bought from the store long enough. The recipe does give me ideas to use the mushroom mixture in other dishes and the carmelized onions are headed for a beef tenderloin sandwich. I will try the bean version again but correct for my mistake but the taste profile was great.

coolaroo said...

Some doctors say that GREEN BEANS is best for cancer and for loosing weight as well - and having this delirious recipe is incredible! Thank you.

Jenny said...

I should be making this for my mother, she loves this kind of food.