Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Guest Post: Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole by Katie Walter of Two Aprons

I haven't featured a guest post in a long while! But with Thanksgiving around the corner (the 26th, for all you non-Americans!), I've been debating whether or not to host a little Thanksgiving get-together at my place.

One of my favorite side dishes that's traditionally served on this American holiday is green bean casserole, which I've always made the lazy way i.e. using Campbell's mushroom soup and skipping the fried onions altogether.

Fellow American Katie Walter, who pens the delicious food blog, Two Aprons, has a mouth-watering recipe for an updated green bean casserole, which she's been generous enough to share with us.

Here's Katie's recipe for this yummy Thanksgiving side:

"As an American living in London, Thanksgiving is the holiday when homesickness creeps in most.  At Christmas, I miss my family, but there are cozy pubs with Christmas lunch, ice skating rinks galore, panto, Christmas markets, etc.  At Halloween, the Brits don't decorate their homes in orange lights or put out motion-sensing zombies (unlike suburban America), but there are kids trick-or-treating, carved pumpkins, and the occasional costume party.

But Thanksgiving in London is difficult.  Being on a Thursday, life continues as usual.  There’s no lazing around the house during the day, chatting and playing games with friends and family, watching football, post-dinner walking and/or napping.  It’s a typical Thursday with work and school. 

However we can still gorge ourselves silly!  

Green bean casserole is one of the most traditional and revered of Thanksgiving dishes.  Yet when I finally fixed it myself (the beauty of Thanksgiving is everyone typically brings a dish, so someone else always made it) the reality hit that the majority of ingredients come from a can.

That’s not how I cook - and I think more and more people are getting away from canned, processed foods and cooking with whole, fresh foods.  So I set about updating this age-old favorite.  Canned green beans are replaced with fresh; condensed cream of mushroom soup is replaced with a homemade mushroom cream sauce and finally the topper of boxed “french fried onions” is swapped out for homemade fried onions.

I cooked this last week for an early Thanksgiving celebration with my parents who were visiting from Wisconsin.  My dad couldn’t get enough (honestly - he had it for breakfast the next day!) and he’s about as traditional as you get.  So if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or Christmas (goes just as well with a Christmas turkey) give this updated classic a try.  Sometimes it’s good to play around with tradition.

Updated Green Bean Casserole
Makes 6 servings (or more if part of a big Thanksgiving / Christmas spread)

Note:  A wider (as opposed to a deeper) 2-quart dish is preferable as it will allow the crispy onions to spread out more.  But use whatever you have - it’ll taste the same regardless.  Keep whole nutmegs (they’re round and about the size of a plum pit) on hand and grate as needed.  I use a microplane grater but you can also use the smallest holes on a box grater.  Tastes so much better than ground nutmeg from a spice jar.
Crispy Onions:
Vegetable oil (as needed, about 16 oz or 450 ml)
3 tablespoons plain, all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced 

Green Beans and Sauce:
1 pound (450 grams) green beans, rinsed, trimmed and cut in half
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
12 ounces (340 grams) mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup (240 ml) chicken broth
1 cup (240 ml) half-and-half / single cream

Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C. 
To make the crispy onions:  Heat a 1/2 inch or so of vegetable oil in a large skillet (approximately 12” or 30 cm diameter) over medium-high heat until a drop of water flicked into it will hiss and sputter.  While the oil is heating, place flour in a medium-sized bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Toss the onion slices in the seasoned flour.  Grab a handful of onions, shaking off excess flour, and fry in the hot oil in batches until light golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per batch (onions will get more color when they bake in the oven). Remove with a slotted spoon, letting excess oil drip back into the skillet, and place on a paper towel-lined plate or tray. 

To make the green beans and sauce: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beans and cook for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.  (Beans may still seem a bit firm, but they will cook more in the oven.)

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the cream. Simmer gently until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir in green beans and remove from heat.  

To assemble the casserole:  Transfer the bean/mushroom mixture to a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with crispy onions and return to the oven for 5 more minutes or until casserole is bubbling and onions are a shade darker.  Serve immediately.

Adapted from Alton Brown and Smitten Kitchen

Thank you so much for sharing, Katie! I'll definitely give this a whirl next week. If you're looking for more Thanksgiving inspiration, check out Katie's other Thanksgiving recipes for Herbed Oyster Stuffing and Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Wine. Warning: may induce a food coma!

Photos © 2015 Katie Walter.


1 comment

  1. A great guest post!! It looks amazing, definitely want to try it out! :) x


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