Well, ladies and gents, I finally made the long, long trek back to Kansas last week. I couldn’t even imagine home would feel so good. My bed. Oh, sweet lord. My bed. If I didn’t have a mountain of things to do and people to see, I would have sprawled on that bed all week.
One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is sitting next to my momma with my morning coffee in tow, watching Macy’s Parade. I was enthralled this year with all the musicals out there. There’s an Elf musical? A Bring It On musical? A Cinderella musical? Who knew?
I had many Thanksgiving festivities to partake in. Normally, I am not one to participate in the holiday cooking. We go over to my aunt’s house, and she tends to man all the stations. Don’t get me wrong. The spread is heavenly. We’re talking grandma’s sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls, and homemade pies. Yum. Yum. Yum. However, when it comes to beans, there’s something lacking. Poor things are the afterthoughts of Thanksgiving.
Not this year.
This year was going to be different.
This year I could ring the doorbell and say, “I brought the green bean casserole”
This year I could quote a Campbell’s commercial.
I began the search for a recipe. I’ve never even had this dish before, so I encroached foreign territory. I went to all my trusty food blogs to see what they had to offer. I saw the words “fresh” and immediately decided this was my dish.
My mom scoffed. “You know can and cream of mushroom works just as fine.” No, no, no, Mom. If I am going to make something for the first time, it’s going to be the best of the best. Go big or go home, eh?
Yeah…thirty minutes into snapping my fresh green beans, and I was regretting that decision. Who could have foreseen something as simple as “fresh green bean” could entail so much work?
The rest of the recipe was easy peasy, however. Throw a little of this in a pot. Add a little of that. Boil. Stir. Bam! Green bean casserole is prepared.
Being the planning person I am, I made this the day before Thanksgiving. I simply had too much on my plate Thanksgiving Day (Oh, that’s punny!). This was my mistake.
I thought, “Oh, yeah. Just get to my aunt’s early. Stick it in the oven. Problem solved.”
Except not problem solved because I forgot we were dealing with my mom. The woman infamous for arriving anywhere fifteen minutes late. My sister and I contemplate telling her we need to be places half an hour earlier than necessary to counteract this tendency.
I also forgot we were talking about Thanksgiving. My aunt’s oven was full to the brim.
Not going to lie, I had a mere meltdown. NO! This green bean casserole would be consumed if my life depended on it. We put on our problem solving hats, decided to push dinner back a bit, crank up the heat, and quickly crisp the top.
Boy, let me tell you, that was a wise choice. The casserole was creamy and rich and crunchy and I need to stop considering I haven’t had lunch yet. Plus, I am a sucker for mushrooms. The texture of the fresh mushroom could not be replicated with a cream of mushroom soup can (scoff-full tone).
Fresh Green Bean Casserole
Adapted from: Brown Eyed Baker
For the Topping:
- 4 slices whole wheat bread, each slices torn into quarters
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 6 oz fried onions
For the Beans and Sauce:
2 tablespoons salt
2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed, and halved
3 tablespoons butter
1 pound white button mushrooms, stems removed, wiped clean and broken into ½-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1½ cups half and half
1. For the Topping: Pulse bread, butter, salt and pepper in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with onions; set aside.
2. For the Beans and Sauce: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees F. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add 2 tablespoons salt and beans. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Drain beans in colander and plunge immediately into ice water to stop cooking. Spread beans on paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.
3. Add butter to now-empty pot and melt over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add mushrooms, garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to 3½ cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in an even layer in 3-quart (or 9×13-inch) baking dish. Sprinkle with topping and bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling around edges, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately