Last year our Thanksgiving was slightly depressing. We didn’t really celebrate it at all. In fact we ate traditional British food instead. You can read about it here. This year we’re celebrating it twice, I guess, in part to make up for last year. On Thursday we’re having the missionaries from our church over. We’ll throw another Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday with a couple of Trent’s school mates, neither of whom have ever celebrated Thanksgiving. It should be fun to introduce them to one of my favourite bits of Americana. On almost every table across America on Thursday there will be the same dish. Green bean casserole will be there among many other star favourites. Green bean casserole was never something that we had to have on our Thanksgiving table. We always had green beans in some form, but they weren’t often in the traditional casserole form. Trent, however, has insisted that we have it on ours.
Not long ago I received Thomas Keller’s cook book, Ad Hoc at Home. My favourite of the recipes we’ve tried has been his beef stroganoff. What is so great about this recipe is that the sauce is so versatile. I make it at least twice a month, but we rarely have it for beef stroganoff. I’ve discovered that with subtle changes, it makes a great replacement for any recipe that calls for cream of mushroom soup. In my version of green bean casserole, I’ve made a few changes to Thomas Keller’s sauce and use it to coat the green beans. You can top it with the traditional French’s French Fried Onions, or since you’re already going all out, why not do those homemade as well.
This recipe is adapted from Thomas Keller’s, beef stroganoff and Alton Brown’s, green bean casserole.
For the mushroom sauce:
1 lb mushrooms, finely chopped (this can be done in batches in a food processor)
1 Tbs butter
1 onion, sliced
3 cups half and half (I used 1 1/2 cups almond milk and 1 1/2 cups cream – I like the nuttiness the almond milk gives.)
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3 Tbs soy sauce
salt and pepper
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped mushrooms, increase heat to medium high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid has evaporated, 10-15 minutes.
Add the half and half, bay leaf, nutmeg and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until sauce has reduced by one-third.
Transfer sauce to blender and blend until smooth.
2 medium onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbs bread crumbs
1 tsp kosher salt
Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during cooking. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F
For the casserole:
1 lb fresh green beans, stems removed
2-3 cups of the mushrooms sauce, depending on how saucy you like it.
1 lb mushrooms (I like chestnut), sliced, and browned.
While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.
Combine mushroom sauce, green beans and browned mushrooms, and 1/4 of the onion topping. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.