Green bean casserole is one of those very American baby boom-era dishes (fun fact: it was invented by the Campbell’s Soup company in the 1950’s, says Wikipedia.) and happens to be one of the more controversial dishes in my family’s Thanksgiving Day lineup.
It was often snickered at/ignored by certain members of our family who deemed it a little lame and old-fashioned. Until one year, it just wasn’t there. (Did you see this one coming? I sure as hell didn’t.) Gammy* didn’t make it because, “no one liked it”. Whaaat? I never said that.
And so I began my crusade of bringing the unhealthy, almost unnatural veggie casserole back into fashion. I didn’t get far beyond making it for my friends at college and getting it back on our Thanksgiving table, but that was enough for me.
This is my second Thanksgiving away from home and this week I was craving that endearing cream-o-mushroom-flavored dish something awful.
I decided to challenge myself a little and make it without the magical ingredients of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom condensed soup and pre-packaged fried onions. Both of which I probably couldn’t find here if I wanted to, so I spared myself the disappointment.
I used chicken stock thickened with flour and a little cream, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions and green onions that I crisped in the oven. The result was a success – I captured the flavor and essence of an old fashioned green bean casserole with healthy, fresh ingredients.
Green Bean Casserole
– 6-7 green onions finely chopped (thinly sliced shallot would work well too)
– 5 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-3 cm/1 inch pieces
– 1 1/2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced
– a small knob of butter
– 1 cup of chicken both
– 2 tablespoons of flour, sifted
– 1 tablespoon of cream
– 4 heaping tablespoons of caramelized onion**
– salt& pepper
– 1/4 cup grated parmesan
Place the green onions on an oiled baking sheet and grill/broil in the oven for about 5 minutes, until crispy. Set aside. (I burnt mine a little – be careful.)
Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F
In a small saucepan bring the chicken broth to a boil. Take off the heat and whisk in flour and cream until thickened. Season with salt & lots of pepper.
In another pan, melt the butter and saute mushrooms. Season with pepper. Once softened, add to the thickened chicken broth.
Place green beans in boiling water for about 5 minutes and drain.
In a casserole dish combine green beans, thickened broth with mushrooms, and caramelized onion. Toss gently to coat the green beans.
Cover and place casserole dish in the preheated oven or 20 minutes. Uncover, turn on the grill/broiler and top with the crisped green onions and parmesan. Bake for 5 more minutes.
*Gammy is the master of mashed potatoes AND green bean casserole. She also happens to be the greatest grandma in the world.
**To make caramelized onion: Combine chopped brown onions with a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and cook covered on a medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 40 minutes or until sweet and a completely softened. I try to make a big batch to have on hand for making things like this more awesome.