For the holidays, there are people who absolutely love a classic green bean casserole made with condensed soup, canned beans and packaged fried onions.
I get the nostalgia. And the thought is a winning one: tender green beans enveloped in a creamy sauce and topped with crispy crunchy oniony things.
But how about a fresher take on the concept?
Here, shallots are crisped in oil (which then can be used for saut√©ing other things, as it will be nicely infused with the flavour of the shallots). Those will go on top.
Haricot verts are thin, young green beans that are more tender than their sturdier, string bean cousins. They are also a bit pricier, but this is a holiday, after all, and you are reinventing a classic, so it’s worth seeking them out.
And the sauce is a lovely medley of saut√©ed fresh mushrooms and a blend of broth and half-and-half that is just creamy and thick enough, but still on the delicate side, so the flavours of all those fresh ingredients can come right on through.
MODERN GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
Start to finish: 45 minutes
CRISPY SHALLOT TOPPING
5 shallots, very thinly sliced
Canola or vegetable oil for frying
Kosher salt to taste
GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
2 pounds haricot verts, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound mushrooms, wiped clean and roughly chopped (any kind of mushrooms, button, cremini, wild, whatever you like)
3 shallots, minced
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup half and half
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Fresh parsley or chervil to garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a shallow 3-quart casserole. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Line a plate with paper towels. Place the five sliced shallots in a small saucepan and pour in canola or vegetable oil to cover. Place the pan on the stove, turn the heat to medium and allow the shallots to cook, stirring occasionally until they turn medium brown. Drain them in a fine-mesh sieve, reserving the oil for another use, then turn the shallots onto the paper-plate lined plate and blot with another paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.
Fill a large bowl with water and some ice. Plunge the haricot verts into the pot of boiling water, and cook for about 5 minutes, just until crisp tender. Drain and plunge the partially cooked green beans into the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.
Melt the butter in large skillet. Saut√© the mushrooms until they’re browned and any liquid they have released has evaporated, about 6 minutes. Add the three chopped shallots and saut√© for another 2 minutes until the shallots are slightly softened. Sprinkle the flour over them, and continue to saut√© for another 2 minutes until the flour coats the mushrooms well, and turns golden. Slowly pour in the broth while stirring. Stir in the half and half, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid thickens. Add the partially cooked green beans. Turn into the prepared casserole. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the crispy sliced shallots over the casserole and bake for 5 more minutes until shallots are hot and re-crisped. Serve hot.