Green Bean Casserole Not From a Can

This recipe saved Thanksgiving.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but, really, it was my best recipe find for this past holiday (past holiday, you say, but isn’t in January?  Shush, I’ve been meaning to post it and today I have time). All the kudos go to the Brown Eyed Baker for making me appreciate this dish again.

In our family, cranberry sauce comes straight from the can and string bean casserole does too.  It’s mushy, heavy, fattening, mandatory, and not very good.  One year I left it off the menu and there was much head shaking.  This dish, I was told, is tradition.  So this year I decided to bypass the canned green beans (yick!) and make a fresh variant (I did, however, fall back on the canned fried onions, but if you magically have enough Thanksgiving prep time, by all means skip the can on that item, too).

Ingredients for 10 -12 servings

  • 2 lbs fresh green beans, ends trimmed, halved
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 lb white button mushrooms, stems removed, cleaned, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 slices white bread (slightly stale)
  • 3 cups canned fried onions (6 oz)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
  2. Bring a large pot to a boil.  While waiting on the boil, fill a large bowl with ice water (to shock the green beans and keep that vibrant color).
  3. Add 2 Tbsp salt and beans to boiling water.  Cook until bright green and crisp-tender, about 6 minutes.  Drain into colander and plunge immediately into the ice bath.  Set aside to dry (the beans can be made one day in advance).
  4. Add 3 Tbsp of butter to the large pot and melt over medium-high heat until foaming subsides.  Add mushrooms, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp of pepper.  Cook until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes.
  5. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  6. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly.
  7. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 3 1/2 cups, about 12 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. For the topping (which can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container):  Pulse bread (one day old, left in an open brown paper bag type stale), 2 Tbsp butter, 1/3 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp black pepper in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 1o 1-second pulses.  Toss with the canned onions.
  10. To assemble: Add the green beans to sauce, stir until evenly coasted.  Arrange in an even layer in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with bread crumb / onion topping and bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling around the edges, about 15 minutes.  Serve and devour.
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