Sometimes the best laid schemes o mice and women gang aft a-gley, as this surely aint yo Mama’s green bean casserole. It also wasn’t what was originally planned. Nevertheless, sometimes mistakes produce the best dishes. This is one of those dishes and I assure you we will cook this as part of our annual Thanksgiving meal from now on. It really is that good.
Have you ever googled “green bean casserole?” If you do, you will get 5,180,000 results. Now, that’s a lot of green bean casserole! It all starts with the classic Campbell Cream of Mushroom Green Bean Casserole created by Dorcas Reilly and the Campbell Soup Company in 1955. According to Campbell Soup Company the recipe was developed to create a quick and easy recipe around two things most Americans always had on hand in the 1950s: green beans and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. It has become so popular and ingrained in U.S. food culture that Good Morning America proclaimed it as one of the most popular dishes for Thanksgiving, estimating approximately 40 million American families make green bean casserole as a Thanksgiving side dish every year. I don’t know anyone in the U.S. who hasn’t been fed this recipe at least once in their life. It’s been served in public schools, at church socials, dinner parties, family holiday dinners, etc. As expected, after a while, Campbell Soup’s base recipe spun off a variety of different green bean casserole recipes, some using cream of mushroom soup, others using cream and mushrooms (they don’t realize it but they are just making homemade cream of mushroom soup 😮 ) and still others using mushrooms and sour cream and/or yogurt. Green bean casserole is here to stay.
Now, Baby Lady loves green bean casserole and it is one of her traditional dishes for Thanksgiving. She also maintains a supply of cream of mushroom soup on hand for her lunch casseroles (I never can get her to take leftovers of the wonderful meals we make. Hrmph!). Nevertheless, this year she was searching for a new green bean casserole to break tradition and add a little excitement to the meal. As she was reading her various food blogs she came across one that set forth the 10 “must have” items for Thanksgiving. This took her to Ree Drummond’s “The Pioneer Woman” blog where she has a recipe for green bean casserole. Baby Lady likes Ree and watches her show fairly regularly. So, Baby Lady decided to try Ree’s recipe with some modification. First, Ree uses canned pimentos and Baby Lady doesn’t like canned peppers. So, she decided upon fresh red bell pepper. She also substituted ground chipotle chiles for cayenne pepper. Next, we didn’t have cheddar cheese but some extremely nice comte cheese remaining from fixing Thomas Keller’s Insanely Delicious Quiche Loraine. Baby Lady also prefers Applewood smoked bacon and wanted a more luxurious sauce so she substituted cream for milk. With the modifications out of the way, Baby Lady set out to fix The Pioneer Woman’s Green Bean casserole. Baby Lady began by following Ree’s recipe to the letter. That is where the problem arose. You see, Ree’s original recipe calls for a blonde roux consisting of 4 Tbsp flour and 4 Tbsp butter. Yet the amount of liquid was 2-1/2 cups milk and 1/2 cup half and half. Therein lay the problem as 2 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp butter will thicken 1 pint of liquid. Too much roux vs. too little liquid. The result being the “sauce” seized yielding a gloppy mess. Now, Ree’s recipe also called for cheese which simply compound the problem. This put the Baby Lady into a minor tizzy and she started scrambling to fix it. As we discussed things in order to address the issue at hand and without further ado, Ree’s recipe went out the window and improvisation became the rule of the day. The net result was a killer green bean casserole, clearly not yo mama’s green bean casserole, nor Ree’s. 😮
- 2 pounds haricot vert, trimmed and cut
- 4 slices Applewood Bacon, cut Into lardons
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 4 Tbsp Butter
- 4 Tbsp Flour
- 3 cups Cream
- 2 cups Turkey Stock (unsalted, chicken stock/broth can be substituted)
- 1-1/2 tsp sea salt (less if you’re using salted stock or broth)
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 tsp powdered chipotle chile
- 1 cup grated comte cheese (substitute gruyere if comte is unavailable)
- 4 oz red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup fried onions
Blanch the beans for about 3 to 4 minutes in lightly salted boiling water. Remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain beans once they’re cool and set aside.
Add lardons to a skillet over medium heat and cook for a couple of minutes to render some of the fat. Now, add diced onion, red bell pepper and garlic.
Continue cooking until bacon is done, but not crisp, and onions are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a separate skillet or saucepan, make a blonde roux by melting butter over medium heat, sprinkling flour into the pan while whisking to evenly mix it into the butter and allowing it to cook for roughy 2 minutes.
When the roux begins to give off a nutty aroma, the flour has started to cook. Add the cream whisking constantly to incorporate the cream and roux evenly. This is simply making a béchamel sauce, one of the 4 mother sauces.
Now because the roux is hot and the cream is cold, the roux will begin to thicken almost immediately. This is where the problem came with too much roux and too little liquid.
See how the roux absorbed all of the cream creating a gloppy mess? Because cream is thick to start with, it will take a lot more cream to thin this out which would cause the casserole to be too creamy. The solution was to add 2 more cups of turkey stock whisking constantly to avoid having lumps. This resulted in a smooth creamy, flavorful base sauce.
Cook for a few minutes to let the flour cook out and remove the flour taste from the sauce. Now, add salt, pepper, ground chipotle and the grated cheddar. Reduce heat to low and whisk to allow the cheese to melt.
When the cheese has melted, add cooked bacon, onions, and bell peppers and stir to combine.
Put the green beans into a baking/casserole dish. Pour the sauce over green beans.
Top with fried onions and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven.
Serve & enjoy!
Happy Holidays everyone. 😀