Is there a dish more expected and roundly beloved at the holiday dinner table than green bean casserole? Other than the main event, I think not. It has been years (like back in high school when Mom made it) since I have had this American staple, mainly due to the fact that I avoid canned condensed soups. Yes, the cans are quick and convenient, but the positive qualities end about there. Knowing that many of you (including family and friends) enjoy this dish, I thought it was high time to go homemade and put it back on the table.
I have one child that does not care for mushrooms. I have one child that does not care for green beans. I have one child that does not care for either. However, all three children more than care for this dish. In fact, they go back for more!!
First, the beans are blanched until tender. I like mine a bit more on the tender side, but cook yours according to your own texture preference. It will also depend on the type of bean. I like to use thin haricot verts, but use what you can find and blanch them until desired tenderness. (Take a bite to be sure). Once baked, the texture will not change much, the beans just absorb some of the good sauce flavor. Speaking of sauce, it starts with a bit of butter (always good) and diced mushrooms. I add shallots for a mild onion flavor and a clove more of garlic. Flour, chicken stock, and cream are added to make a thick sauce. To take the flavor and creaminess to another level, I add a bit of Gruyère cheese (an aged white Cheddar is tasty, too) and a splash of sherry. Married with the mushrooms, shallots, and cream, it is a classic combo of flavors.
As far as the topping, it is a blend of old vs. new. A few cups full of those french-fried onions for nostalgia purposes along with the addition of Panko crumbs makes for a crunchy and pick-worthy topping that adds that loved texture and flavor.
After all that, there is still more. This dish can be made ahead of time-- bonus for the holidays! The topping can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, then combined with the fried onions just before cooking. Once the beans and sauce have cooled separately, they can be combined. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. To serve, remove the plastic wrap and cover with foil. Heat the the casserole in a 425º F oven for 10 minutes. Remove the foil, add the topping, then bake for another 10-15 or until browned and bubbling. (I have included this in the recipe below).
I may have
forgotten (o.k. avoided) this all-American side dish in the last several years, but I can honestly say that now, my family will never have a holiday without it!
Other sides dishes you might enjoy for Thanksgiving
Green Bean Casserole (from scratch)
For the Topping
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 cups (6-ounces) of canned fried onions
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Beans and Sauce
2 pounds haricots verts or thin green beans, ends trimmed and halved
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces white button mushrooms,cleaned and finely diced
2 small shallots, finely diced
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese, about 2 ounces grated (an aged white Cheddar works nicely, too)
2 teaspoons dry Sherry (optional, but good)
For the Topping
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the butter and panko. Add the fried onions, salt, and pepper and pulse just until coarse crumbs form, about 3-5 (1-second) pulses; set aside.
For the Beans and Sauce
With oven rack in middle position, preheat the oven to 425º F. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice; set aside. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and beans. Cook until beans are bright green and tender about 6-9 minutes (taste for desired tenderness). Drain beans in a colander and immediately plunge into the ice water to stop the cooking process. Spread beans in a single layer on a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain completely.
In the empty pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. Sauté until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Add cheese and stir until melted, about 1 minute. Stir in the Sherry, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the green beans to the sauce and gently toss to coat. Transfer the beans to a 3-quart (or 9 x 13-inch) baking dish. Sprinkle the topping over the beans and bake until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
*To make in advance-
The topping can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, then combined with the fried onions just before cooking. Once the beans and sauce have cooled separately, they can be combined. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. To serve, remove the plastic wrap and cover with foil. Heat the the casserole in a 425º F oven for 10 minutes. Remove the foil, add the topping, then bake for another 10-15 or until browned and bubbling.
Source: Adapted from Cooks Illustrated