Friday, November 23, 2012

Awesome Green Bean Casserole

I wonder when I read someone else's blog whether or not they actually make and eat the foods they say they will make for Thanksgiving.  Well, in this house, I do make and eat the side dishes I say I'm going to.   I might change it up a little, but we're traditionalists here, and you can't stray too far from tradition.
Awesome Green Bean Casserole

With a couple of exceptions that is. I really, really, really dislike that gloppy mess most people serve as a green bean casserole.   Ugh.   Can you see the shudder from there?   I tried to suppress it, but just couldn't.

However, a few years ago I saw the recipe for this Green Bean Casserole on the Pioneer Woman site and decided to try it.  All I can say is YUM!!!!!!!    OK, so I get a little enthusiastic about this, but it really is that good.   And best of all, you can change it up, shake it up, make it your own.   It does lend itself to that.   You can even make it vegetarian and gluten free.   How about that?
Personally, I like the bacon in it, but if you substitute mushrooms, that works as well.   And if you thicken the bechamel sauce with cornstarch or potato starch, it makes it gluten free as well.  Just sayin...

Wash your beans and then chop off the ends and stems, and either cut them in half or leave them whole, it's your call.   (forgot to take pictures of this, but you can figure it out, right?)

Blanch your beans for a couple of minutes, then take them off the heat and cool them down with some ice water.     Set them aside while you get the rest together.   And then put them into a greased casserole dish.

Cut the bacon into lardons and cook in a skillet until they start to brown, then add a chopped onion, cook until the onions start to carmelize, and turn a lovely shade of caramel, then add the garlic and cook another minute or so.    Set aside.

Grate two cups of cheese, cheddar, sharp cheddar, colby Jack, whatever you like.  Personally I prefer Colby Jack cheese.  Set aside while you make a basic white sauce.(a lot of setting asides here, huh?)    A couple cups of milk or half and half, some butter and flour (or cornstarch if you are gluten free).


 Cook until thick, then add the grated cheese, stir that around until the cheese is melted, than add the bacon and onion you just cooked.  Taste it, then add some cayenne and some salt and pepper to taste.   I usually put in 1/4 teaspoon of Cayenne to start with, then add more if I think it needs it.   You can also use mustard instead.   Both of them will 'amp up' or intensify the cheese flavour.  Give it a stir and for the final touch, add some chopped pimento's.  Just for color, and they do add a little flavour as well.



Now for the final step, well next to last, well OK, so there is a couple more steps here.   Sheesh, stop counting. 


Pour the sauce over the cooked beans and give them a stir so that the sauce coats each bean with love and cheese.

 Spread some buttered Panko bread crumbs over the top, (omit this if you're going gluten free, or use gluten free bread crumbs).   Or just dot it with some butter like this.














Place in a hot oven, about 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.   Remove and serve.   Oh and don't get surprised if even your kids love this, it is that good.

The first time I made this, there were six of us at dinner, and this is all that was left.

 Almost half of it eaten.   The next time I made it,  I took it to a potluck and people were scraping the bowl, personally I think they would have picked it up and licked it, the sauce is so good.  


I just had a thought.  Make the sauce by itself and serve over some baked potatoes.   Now that would be an awesome meal. 

Recipe: Awesome Green Bean Casserole

2 pounds Fresh Green Beans, ends cut off
4 slices bacon, cut into lardons or strips    *** Vegetarian instructions at bottom           
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour  ** or 2 tablespoons Corn or Potato Starch
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1 cup grated Monterey Jack Cheese (or a little more if you like, which I do)
1 jar sliced pimento's, drained (4 oz. jar)
extra milk for thinning if necessary
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
2 tablespoons butter

Cook the beans for about 4 minutes, drain and dump into some ice water to stop the cooking process, then drain and place in a well greased casserole dish.
 Cook the bacon until almost done, then add the onions, continuing to cook them until they begin to caramelize a little.   Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so.    Set aside while you make the sauce.

Make the white sauce, melting the butter and whisking flour into the butter, letting it cook a minute or so to get the raw taste of the flour out.  ** Gluten Free instructions at end.   Then add a half cup of milk, whisk that in, then add the rest of the milk and half and half, whisking it well.  Let it cook, continuing to stir until the sauce thickens.    After it has thickened, continue to cook for another minute or two, then add the cheese, pimento's, cooked bacon and onions, and the seasonings.  Stir together and pour over the green beans.  Stir to combine, and top with the Panko bread crumbs and dot with butter.  Or melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan, then stir in the bread crumbs and combine.   Sprinkle on top of casserole and bake for 30-45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.   Serve.

** Gluten Free.   If you're making this gluten free, whisk the Corn or potato starch into the milk and heat, until thickened.   You can also add a couple of tablespoons of butter towards the end.  If you need it a little thicker, add a little more cornstarch mixed in with some cold milk,  and whisk it in.

***  Vegetarian, substitute Mushrooms for the bacon and follow the other instructions. 

Sid Munkholm
Sid Munkholm

Sid loves to cook, feed people and have fun in the kitchen. She shares her successes and the involuntary offerings she sometimes gives the kitchen goddess as well. And she's still looking for the mythical fairy to help her clean the kitchen after a marathon cooking session. Currently working on a cookbook showcasing the recipes from her Danish heritage.

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