Monday, November 19, 2007

Green Bean Casserole

It's Thanksgiving week. Yahoo! This year, we're traveling to my in-laws in Utah, where Mark's mom will fix us a fantastic feast and I get to just bring the pies, which is my favorite thing to make at Thanksgiving, anyhow. Like most Americans, we love to eat, and Thanksgiving is no time to hold back. It's especially fun to eat at a very social occasion, such as this Thursday, when we crowd into a couple of rooms and enjoy a delicious meal.

Last year Mark and I decided on a variation of the traditional green bean casserole, which I only half explained in the blog, so I decided to post the recipe here today, in case anyone's looking for a great green bean casserole for Thanksgiving. Plus, my mother-in-law asked for the recipe, so I need to write a more detailed version and thought it was a good excuse to share it. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture. Sorry. (I really dislike not having a picture.)

Let me tell you what is SO fantastic about this green bean casserole. Even if you are a bit fond of the can o' cream o' mushroom, there are better avenues out there to enjoying creamed mushrooms, and it doesn't take much effort, other than chopping onions and mushrooms. Secondly, and more importantly (italicized because I had to think about it for a minute), there is nothing quite so delicious as deep fried shallots. We discovered this last year. It was very difficult to make enough so that we had plenty to snack on and plenty left for the casserole, but we managed. And fresh green beans compared to canned...well, you shouldn't have to ask.

For all of you Thanksgivingers out there, tell me what side dishes you like to make or eat on Thanksgiving, and what you're having this year. I love to collect ideas!

Green Bean Casserole

5 T. butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 lb. (or so) crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 1/2 lbs. green beans, cut into 2" pieces
3/4 c. (or so) flour
2 c. milk
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch grated nutmeg
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. (or so) canola oil
4 - 6 (or so) large shallots
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Melt 2 T. of the butter, then add the onions. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, then add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Continue to stir and cook until all the moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated, another 5 or 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and salt and pepper as needed. Melt 3 T. butter into the mixture, then add 1/4 c. of flour and stir in well, until you can't see any white bits anymore. Pour in the milk and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens. Stir in the cayenne, nutmeg, and additional salt or pepper as needed to taste. Cool a bit. (Note: You can prepare the sauce and refrigerate it, then reheat it the next day and continue on from here.)

Set the remaining flour in a medium-sized bowl. Slice the shallots into 1/4" rings. Drop them into the bowl of flour, toss around to separate and coat, then remove them. Make sure they're separated, shake them off a bit, then drop them into the flour again and repeat. Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium to medium high heat. Fry the shallots in small batches in the oil, stirring, until golden brown. Remove to drain on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°. (Of course, if you're making this for Thanksgiving dinner, the oven will be on some other temperature already; that's okay, just watch the beans and vary the cooking time a bit.) Butter or spray a 9" x 13" baking dish.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, then add the green beans. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until tender. (Usually fork tender is great for green beans, but you don't want them too firm for the casserole. Use your own judgment.) Strain in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop them from further cooking.

Stir the beans into the warmish mushroom sauce until thoroughly mixed, then pour into the baking dish. Top with an even layer of the Parmesan cheese and the shallots, then bake until heated through and the cheese is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

1 comment:

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

This one's not a traditional one, but it does have green beans and everyone I've served it to loves it.

Cook up a few slices of bacon, then set them aside. To the saucepan that has the bacon fat cook a pound or two of fresh green beans and a sliced red bell pepper. Just before they are done, toss in some crushed peanuts and a glob or two of peanut butter. Mix it all up till the beans are done to your liking, crumble the bacon and add that at the last. Sometimes I add crushed garlic at the same time as the peanuts.

Not the healthiest thing to do with veggies, but darned tasty.