This is a much maligned dish which is often served but hardly touched at a lot of Thanksgiving meals. The classic recipe calls for canned or frozen beans, cans of cream of mushroom soup, and a can of fried onions. Ugh. No wonder no one wants to eat it.
I felt challenged to make a green bean casserole that people would actually want to eat. USA Today had a recipe adopted from America’s Test Kitchen:
Green Bean Casserole
Serves 10 to 12
4 slices white sandwich bread, each slice torn into quarters
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups canned fried onions (about 6 ounces)
Beans and sauce:
2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed, and halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound white button mushrooms, stems trimmed, wiped clean, and broken into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
Ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1. For the topping: Pulse bread, butter, salt and pepper in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 one-second pulses. Transfer to large bowl and toss with onions; set aside.
2. For the beans and sauce: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Fill large bowl with ice water. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven. Add 2 tablespoons salt and beans. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, about 6 minutes.
Drain beans in colander and plunge immediately into ice water to stop cooking. Spread beans on paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain.
3. Add butter to now-empty Dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add mushrooms, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to 3 1/2 cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in even layer in 3-quart (or 13-by-9-inch) baking dish. Sprinkle with topping and bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling around edges, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Instead of fried onions, I took a cue from Tyler Florence’s Food 911 recipe and added grated Parmesan, thyme, and rosemary to the breadcrumbs. I also used half white and half crimini mushrooms.
In this photo, about 1/3 of the casserole is left, with most of the guests having seconds and thirds. I’d call that a success!
I think the beans can be blanched for less time to keep them crispy. Next time I want to see if I can cut the fat by using half and half instead of full cream, using gravy in the sauce, add some chopped turkey to the beans, topping the beans with stuffing before adding the breadcrumbs. Of course, this means that the casserole comes after Turkey Day…