green bean casserole

Honestly, I’m not pining away for the holidays or anything. It’s just that I have this posting schedule thing and the file into which I dump the recipes I want to add to this blog is alphabetical. My holiday recipes seem to be lumped together at the beginning of the alphabet.

Regardless, today you get my recipe for Green Bean Casserole.

Green bean casseroles make me insane. Whenever you walk into a grocery store in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, you’ll see an artfully (?) arranged display of can: cans of green beans, cans of cream of mushroom soup, cans of french fried onions. Cans upon cans upon cans.

Somehow, I resist the urge to kick down the display.

Now I’m not a strict purist when it comes to canned stuff. I still throw a can of that disgusting, jiggling, gelatinous mass into Mama’s Cornbread Dressing. Some things, after all, are sacred. But, for the most part, I try to remain can-free during the holidays.

Green bean casserole was one of the only ways I would eat vegetables when I was growing up, and it makes me laugh a little to think of the sense of triumph the grownups in my life must have felt to have gotten one over on me. I’m not sure when I finally caved and actually started liking veggies, but I’m ever so glad I did. And I’m twice as glad that I’ve learned to like fresh veggies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of fresh haricot verts. Get the thinnest you can find.
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

For the soup:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 cups half & half
  • 3 cups mushrooms (whatever kind you prefer) chopped rough
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano

For the onions:

  • 1 large sweet onion (I prefer Vidalia) sliced super, super thinly
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • A couple dashes cayenne
  • 1 quart cooking oil (I prefer peanut oil)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place the sliced onions for the topping in a baking dish and cover them with the buttermilk to soak. Set aside while you prepare the green beans and the cream of mushroom soup.

Drop the haricot verts into a pot of boiling water and cook them just until they turn bright green. Plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Set them aside.

Make a roux of the flour and 3 tablespoons butter. Set aside. Sautee the onions and garlic in the other 2 tablespoons of butter until they are translucent. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add the half and half. Bring to a boil and add the white roux, whisking constantly until it thickens. Add the mushrooms and the seasonings and cook a couple minutes more. Cover, remove from the heat and set aside.

In a deep pot (I do this in my enamled cast iron Dutch oven) heat the cooking oil for the onions to 375°. While the oil is heating, combine the dry ingredients. When the oil has reached the right temperature, grab a handful of the onions from the buttermilk, shake off the excess and drop them into the flour. Coat and shake off the excess again, then drop them into the oil. They’ll brown quickly, so do this in small batches. Remove each batch and drain on paper towels. Try to keep people from popping into the kitchen to steal them while you’re handcuffed to the hot oil. When all the onions are fried, salt and pepper them and allow them to cool.

Assemble the casserole. Generously butter a large baking dish. Spread the haricot verts in an even layer and pour the soup over them. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes. Increase the temp to 400°, top with the onions and bake for an additional five minutes.

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