Wednesday, December 23, 2009

STRING BEAN CASSEROLE


String bean casserole is a popular side dish to make during the holidays. Usually one finds recipes for it that call for canned cream of mushroom soup and bags of frozen green beans. Why use canned soup? It has an unbelievably high sodium content. Here we have a recipe that replaces the canned soup for a flavorful roux containing fresh mushrooms. The green beans are fresh and blanched to preserve their lovely green color. The onion rings are mixed with buttered bread crumbs, and once the topping is baked it takes on a crunchy and buttery deliciousness. Go back to the "original" recipes? After tasting this, NEVER!

Ingredients:
  1. 1 lb green beans, halved, ends trimmed
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 shallot, minced
  4. 2 tablespoons parsley
  5. 2 tablespoons butter
  6. ½ lb mushrooms, sliced
  7. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  8. 2 ½ tablespoons flour
  9. ¾ cup low sodium chicken broth
  10. ¾ heavy cream
  11. Ingredients for the topping, see below
Directions:




  • Blanch the string beans: Drop them in salted boiling water, lower the heat and cook them for 10 to 15 minutes, or until desired doneness is reached. Drain and blanch them by immersing them in an ice bath. This will stop the cooking process and preserve the green color of the string beans. Remove them and place them on paper towels to dry.

  • In a skillet heat the olive oil, lower the heat and add the shallot and parsley. Cook for one minute. Stir in the string beans and season with salt and pepper. Cook for one more minute stirring, remove from the heat and reserve.



  • Melt the butter and add the mushrooms and garlic. Season with salt & pepper and sauté until the mushrooms release their moisture and their liquid begins to evaporate, about 4 minutes.



  • Add the flour and keep stirring the mixture for about one minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil stirring all the while. Lower the heat, add the cream and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until you have a thickened mixture.

  • Add green beans to the cream and mix well. Correct the seasoning by adding salt and pepper if needed. Arrange the ingredients in a baking dish, spreading them in an even layer.



  • Sprinkle with the topping (see topping ingredients below), and bake at 425° F for about 15 minutes, until the cream is bubbly and the topping is crispy.
  • This dish can be partially prepared one day ahead. After arranging the string beans in a baking dish cover them and store them in the refrigerator. Store the topping in a separate container, and finish assembling when ready to bake. Make sure that you bring the dish to room temperature before baking.



Topping:
2 slices bread
1 tablespoon butter
1½ cups canned fried onion rings (3 oz)

  • Pulse the bread and butter and add it to the onion rings, mix well.

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