Tuesday, January 3, 2012

From Scratch Green Bean Casserole

I have long been a fan of green bean casserole.  For as long as I can remember the green bean casserole with the cream soups have been a staple at every Thanksgiving and Christmas meal.  Now while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that version of green bean casserole (it is popular for a reason, right?), it is always nice to try a new spin on a classic.  That's exactly what this casserole is, a new spin on a traditional classic.  Since this dish holds a special place in my heart I literally jumped for joy when the opportunity presented itself for me to make this version of green bean casserole for Christmas.  I have been eyeing this recipe for quite some time so I was very excited to finally have a reason to make it.

This version of green bean casserole is slightly different than the one I have made before.  The previous version not only called for a homemade cream of mushroom soup, but for homemade fried onions as well.  This recipe, however, utilizes the classic canned fried onions, which I am very fond of, but paired them with a buttery, seasoned bread crumb mixture.  Spreading this buttery, fried onion mixture on top of fresh, crispy-tender grean beans tossed in a creamy, homemade mushroom soup is the epitome of deliciousness. 

Though this recipe is slightly more involved than the traditional green bean casserole, it is still quite simple to make.  Blanch the green beans, make homemade mushroom soup and assemble the casserole.  This casserole portion can even be prepared in advance and refrigerated for up to a day.  I can honestly say I think this is one of my new, favorite side dishes that I won't only enjoy on Thanksgiving or Christmas but year around.  I think next time I will merge the two recipes by utilizing this cream of mushroom soup, but lightly dredging shallots, frying them and then mixing them with the buttery, bread crumb topping.  Sounds delicious to me, I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out!  Be sure to have this recipe at your next family or holiday gathering.          
Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients:

For the topping-

4 Slices white sandwich bread
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 Tsp salt
1/8 Tsp ground black pepper
3 Cups (canned) fried onions (about 6 oz)

For the beans and cream of mushroom soup-

2 Pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed and halved
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Pound baby portabello mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and sliced
3 Medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
Ground black pepper
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 Cups heavy cream

Directions:

For the topping-

Tear the bread slices into quarters.  Place the bread, butter, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until corse crumbs form, about ten 1-second pulses.  Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

For the beans and cream of mushroom soup-

Preheat oven to 425.

Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice water, place near the stove.  In a large dutch oven, or large stock pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.  Add 2 tablespoons of salt as well as the beans.  Allow water to come back to a roaring boil, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 6 minutes, until beans are light green and crisp-tender.  Drain the beans and immediatley immerse into the ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Remove from water and place on a paper towel lined cookie sheet to dry.

Meanwhile, add butter to the dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat.  Once the foaming has subsided add the mushrooms, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Cook about 6 minutes; until the mushrooms have released their moisture and the liquid has evaporated.  Stirring constantly, add the flour and cook for an additional minute.  Continuing to stir constantly, add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.  Add cream, reduce heat to medium and continuing simmering for about 12 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and reduced to about 3 1/2 cups.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Place the green beans back in the dutch oven and stir to combine the soup with the beans.  Once the beans are evenly coated, transfer the mixture to a 9x13 (3 quart) baking dish.  Mix the fried onions with the bread crumb mixture and sprinkle evenly over the top of the beans.  Place in oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the soup is bubbling and the top is golden brown.  Serve immediately.

*To make this ahead of time, make the breadcrumbs, store in the refrigerator and combine with the onions right before baking. The beans and cooled sauce can be combined in a baking dish and stored, covered, up to 24 hours before serving. To heat, simply remove the cover and bake at 425º for 10 minutes and continue baking as directed.
*The recipe can easily be halved just bake it in an 8-inch square (2 quart) baking dish. Reduce the cooking time for the soup to 6 minutes, rather than 12, (1 3/4 cups) and the baking time to 10 minutes.

Recipe source: The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook

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