What makes this dish so memorable? It’s the fact that it’s not made with any cream of questionable ingredients, and instead uses a homemade cream of mushroom soup as the base. The fresh, crisp-tender green beans and crunchy topping don’t hurt, either. Our families tend to think of Eric and I as kind of food elitists, and I remember some jesting remarks being made about us while we were prepping this dish. Those quickly ceased once everyone tried this casserole, though. I’ve made it another way since then, using fried shallots in place of the canned fried onions and breadcrumb topping in this recipe. Eric and I made the two versions back to back, and this version barely won out. In the future, I’d like to try a version that uses both the fried shallots and the breadcrumb topping to make this a completely can free green bean casserole. Until then, this one is still infinitely better than any other version I ever had growing up.
From Scratch Green Bean Casserole
*To make this ahead of time (because Thanksgiving Day can be so crazy), make the breadcrumbs ahead of time, store in the refrigerator and combine with the onions right before baking. The beans and cooled sauce can be combined in a baking dish and stored, covered, up to 24 hours before serving. To heat, simply remove the cover and bake at 425º for 10 minutes and continue baking as directed. You can easily halve this recipe and bake it in an 8-inch square (2 quart) baking dish. Reduce the cooking time in step 3 to 6 minutes (1 3/4 cups) and the baking time in step 4 to 10 minutes.
For the Topping:
4 slices white sandwich bread, each slice torn into quarters
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups canned fried onions (about 6 ounces)
For the Beans and Sauce:
2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed, halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound white button mushrooms, stems trimmed, wiped clean, and broken into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
Ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the bread, butter, salt and pepper until coarse crumbs form, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with the onions; set aside.
Preheat oven to 425º. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice water and place it near the stove. In a large Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and beans. Cook for about 6 minutes, until the beans are bright green and crisp-tender. Drain the beans and dunk them into the water to stop cooking. Remove from the ice bath and place onto a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain completely.
Add butter to Dutch oven and melt over medium high heat. Once foaming has subsided, add mushrooms, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released their moisture and the liquid has evaporated. Stirring constantly, sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in broth and, still stirring constantly, bring to a simmer. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and continue simmering about 12 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and reduced to 3 1/2 cups. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Place green beans back into the Dutch oven and stir to evenly coat them with sauce. Pour into a 9 x 13-inch (3 quart) baking dish. Evenly spread topping over the beans and bake for about 15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and topping is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Source: The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook