Making a Green Bean Casserole that doesn’t look like a pile of puke

Green Bean Casserole is a ubiquitous side dish on many Thanksgiving Day dinner tables. But does it have to be a salty, mushy pile? The answer is "No", and here's how to make it happen.

Green bean casserole: that ubiquitous side dish that has graced Thanksgiving Day dinner tables for decades. While it has the potential to be good (green beans, fried onions, oh boy!), it has the unfortunate tenancy to look like, for lack of a better term, a “big pile of puke”.

Invented in 1955 by the Campbell’s Soup Company, green bean casserole is truly a product of the 1950’s cooking mentality. With a convenience-food obsessed America, dumping a can of gray-green chopped beans and a condensed can of Cream of Mushroom soup together, and topping it all off with a final can-full of dried fried onions seemed fast and modern.

Today our National diet tends to skew towards tastes more fresh and clean (at least sometimes). And it’s with that in mind we present a version of the holiday classic that has 75% less cans, while still giving that comfort-food taste that you look for alongside the turkey.

A Better Green Bean Casserole

Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups Bread crumbs
  • 2 T. Unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4  tsp. Ground pepper
  • 1 can (6 oz.) Fried onions

Beans:

  • 2 lbs. Fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
  • 3 T. Unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. Button mushrooms, washed, trimmed and torn into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 3 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T. Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 Heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the bread crumbs, butter, salt and pepper in a bowl until mixed through. Add fried onions and stir well. Set aside.

In a large pot, boil 6 oz of water. When it’s really roiling, put in green beans along with a pinch of salt. When the beans cook to a bright green (about 6 minutes), drain beans and transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water to shock them from overcooking. Drain the beans again, and dry them on a baking sheet covered with paper towels. Set aside.

In a dutch oven or pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add your garlic and mushrooms. Cook down until the mushrooms reduce in size, and you have a nice amount of their liquid, about 6 minutes. Stir in your flour, cook for 1 minute. Add your chicken broth and heavy cream. Get everything to a high simmer, then reduce your heat a bit (no one wants boiling milk), and stirring frequently, cook until your liquids become a sauce consistency (around 12 minutes).

When it looks like you have around 3 cups of sauce, taste and see if you want more salt or pepper. Keep in mind the fried onions will add saltiness as well. When it tastes good to you, turn off the heat, drop the beans in, and stir everything together.

Pour the mixture into a rectangular baking dish, and bake for ten minutes. Take out of the oven, and evenly spread your onion mixture over the beans. Continue baking for 15 minutes, or until the onions looks crispy and the beans have a good bubble to them.

It’s going to be super-hot, so watch out and let it rest a bit. Then present it to your friends and family, who will thank you for feeding them so well.