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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: Green Bean Casserole

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Green Bean Casserole

Last week, I shared with you the story of a food I didn't eat for decades, thinking that I hated it: stuffing.

Here's another one which I missed out on for years and years: green bean casserole.

Oh, green bean casserole.  That utterly American dish which people across our country enjoy at least once a year, at the same time they're gorging on turkey and cranberries.

And for years I said "No, thank you" when it came my way at the Thanksgiving table, and passed it on down the line while waiting for my turn with the mashed potatoes.

Silly me! Because the first time I actually said "What the hell" and tried it, I was hooked forever.

Coincidentally, that "What the hell" attitude was what led me to meet my husband.  But that's another story.  The lesson here is, a healthy dose of adventurousness can lead to a life long love affair.

Oh, and a marriage.  WHOA! See what I did there?

Okay, enough poor attempts at humor.  Back to the utter destruction of a once-healthy vegetable.

This time around, rather than following the tried-and-true canned veggie and Campbell's recipe, I thought I'd try to take things up to the next level.  So I adapted Alton Brown's green bean casserole recipe and was pleased with it - but it didn't go over too well with my traditional family, who are so used to having that tried-and-true version.  In the future I might use canned beans BUT with the homemade sauce.  Here's how it went down:

As with all good things, we start with butter.  2 tablespoons, to be exact.  Melt it down in your pan...

And in do 6 oz of well-chopped mushrooms - I didn't want any huge pieces even though I happen to adore mushrooms.  I wanted the beans to be the star, with the mushrooms taking a supporting role.  The mushrooms were cooked down until they were well browned and had released their juices, and then...

2 tablespoons of flour were added and mixed in until the juices were completely absorbed and the flour had a chance to cook a bit, maybe 3 or 4 minutes.

1 cup of chicken broth was added and stirred, stirred, stirred in order to let the flour break down and thicken the sauce, instead of clumping up and giving me lumps.  Lumps are no good.  Down with lumps.

Moving on.

Once the sauce had thickened, after a few minutes of heating up with the flour (drag your spoon along the bottom of the pan - if you leave a streak behind, which doesn't immediately fill back in with sauce, it's time), add 1 cup of half-and-half.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and allow this to simmer until thickened...

...and try to not just eat it right then and there.  Because let me tell you, this is the most heavenly soup, right here.  I would just pour this into a bowl and call it lunch - and I might have to, one day soon.

This was not for lunch, though (sadly).  This was a sauce beans!

Around a pound, in fact.  Alton calls for fresh beans and I'm sure that would be wonderful...but it's not always easy to find good fresh beans at this time of the year, especially when they've been picked over by scores of harried Thanksgiving grocery shoppers (believe me, I witnessed it and felt a little sick).  So I went with frozen.
And with beans go, of course, the fried onions.  I used a cup of the canned kind.

Into a buttered casserole dish this goes, and then it's topped with even MORE onions - another cup...or so.  Don't worry, no one will judge you if you add more.  Or even if you, say, eat one or two or a dozen right out of the can.

You're the cook.  It's your kitchen.

Into a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes and

Can we please observe a moment of silence for this perfect mix of mushroom, bean, onion and rich cream sauce? 

Okay.  Moment over - time to eat!

Green Bean Casserole

1 pound frozen green beans, thawed and dried
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ounces mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
2 cups French's fried onions, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Melt butter in large pan and add mushroom pieces.  Cook mushrooms over medium-high heat until juices have been released and mushrooms are browning, around 4-5 minutes.  Sprinkle flour into pan and stir well, making sure all flour is incorporated into juices.  Turn heat down to medium and cook for a few minutes in order for the raw flour taste to cook out.

Add chicken broth and stir vigorously, in order for flour to fully incorporate with liquid.  Cook for several minutes until broth is thickened and add half-and-half.  Again allow liquid to simmer until thickened, around 5 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and add beans and 1 cup of onions, stirring gently to combine.  Pour bean misxture into buttered 8x8 baking dish and top with remaining cup of onions.

Bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven, until bubbly.

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Anonymous redkathy said...

OMGosh I love this stuff! My youngest son can eat more green bean casserole than anyone I've ever known. I used cream soup and was hoping to come across a recipe totally from scratch, thank you! The mushrooms I haven't tried as of yet and love that idea.

December 4, 2010 at 11:09 PM

Blogger Real Life Reslers said...

I love your style of has me laughing out loud! I met my hubby in a "what the heck" type of way maybe I should try this dish....

hope you had a great weekend!

December 5, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Anonymous Megan (Best of Fates) said...

I've never even been offered green bean casserole. Now I'm tempted - maybe I'll fall in love!

December 5, 2010 at 7:10 PM

Blogger Mary said...

That looks and sounds delicious. The combination is always hard to beat. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

December 10, 2010 at 12:50 PM


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