Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Feast, Part II: Green Bean Casserole (from scratch)

Welcome to Part II of my Thanksgiving feast series: green bean casserole. Whether you've been assigned this one dish or you're cooking an entire Thanksgiving feast there's one thing we can all agree on: we eat to excess on Thanksgiving. If that weren't enough, we eat many dishes loaded with fat, salt and other unhealthy things. In other words: flavor.

Green Bean Casserole, which is a must have at any Thanksgiving dinner, is loaded with all of that tasty stuff and more. This is because it is almost always made entirely out of cans and boxes. While this saves on time it also saves on taste. And nutritional value. But most importantly, taste. If you want to bring the most delicious, most talked about version of this dish to your thanksgiving, cook along with me and make it from scratch.

The green beans and mushroom/onion/shallot mix can both be made up to one day ahead of time. You'll simply need to cook the casserole longer (say 10 minutes) to account for the cold ingredients.

If, like me, you're cooking the entire meal, you'll still have time to make this if you prep properly. Believe it or not, it's not that much harder than the out of a can version. The most labor intensive part was chopping the green beans into little pieces. If you have the luxury of a kitchen minion or two, I'd suggest putting them on green bean chopping duty.

If this is the only dish you've signed up to bring, why not make it the best possible version?

Green Bean Casserole

Makes one 9” x 13” baking dish

32 ounces green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1” pieces

6 ounces fried onions

16 ounces sliced mushrooms

1/2 yellow onion, minced

1 large shallot, roughly chopped (about 2 Tablespoons)

32 ounces low sodium chicken stock

3 cups whole milk

4 Tablespoons butter, separated

2 Tablespoons mirin

3 Tablespoons all purpose flour

1 small pinch cayenne

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot combine green beans and stock. Add pepper if desired. Bring to a full boil, then reduce to an active simmer. Simmer until green beans are very soft (about 20 minutes). Drain beans and set aside.
2. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan melt 1 tablespoon of the butter along with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Saute the minced onion and chopped shallots with a pinch of salt over medium heat until caramelized ( about 10 minutes). Stir infrequently. In the last minute add thyme. When onions and shallots are browned deglaze the pan with 1 tablespoon Mirin or Sherry.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add mushrooms another pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Saute until mushrooms are cooked through. Deglaze with remaining Mirin/Sherry.
4. Set mushrooms onions and shallot mix aside. Spray or grease a large baking dish. Lay green beans in a single layer. mix in 2/3 cup by volume fried onions.
5. Melt remaining butter in the same large saucepan over low-medium heat. Add flour & cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, until the mix has turned golden. Whisk in milk, roughly 1/3 cup at a time.
6. Allow to thicken, stirring frequently. Reintroduce mushroom, onion and shallot mix. Pour milk mixture (gravy) over beans in baking dish. Bake until bubbling (about 15 minutes). Cover entire casserole with fried onions and bake for 5 additional minutes.

Serve at Thanksgiving as a side dish.

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