The green bean casserole is a mid-century staple on many holiday tables. Casseroles in the 50s were promoted by soup manufacturers as a kind of labor saving device for the modern house wife. Using a can a soup as a base, a wonderful dish could be created with a few other common ingredients and an oven. When done correctly, a cook could easily impress her family with the results.
As Alton Brown demonstated on his Good Eats show, casseroles can be made of almost anything. They are a good way to clean out your fridge of left-overs.
What both Brown and I object to about most casserole recipes is the use of canned soup. While I don’t mind canned soup for straight-up fast food, I want more fine-grained control of the elements of my casseroles (like salt) than these off the shelf products allow.
Many soups and sauces are really easy to make. The classic recipe for green bean casserole calls for cream of mushroom soup. This is nothing more than a bechemal sauce infused with aromatics and sauted mushrooms. And a bechmal sauce can be as simple as rue (butter + flour) and milk!
I present my green bean casserole as a tasty, but simple twist on the mid-century classic. Enjoy!
- 1 large sauce or saute pan
- 1 8x8 casserole dish (or moral equivalent)
- Whisk or fork
- Wooden spoon
- 2 cups of milk
- 1/4 cup (2 oz.) of flour
- 4 oz. of unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper
- Package of crimini mushrooms (~ 10 oz.)
- 1 shalot
- 1 medium onion (yellow or white)
- 1/2 lb. of green beans
- 1/2 lb. of yellow waxy beans
- 1 can (8-12 oz.) fried onions
Preparation: (15 minutes)
Rinse off beans. Remove stems/ends. Cut into halves. Blanch beans in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Shock beans in ice water to stop cooking.
Slice mushrooms. Dice shalot. Cut onion into slices of half circles (or simply dice).
Starting the sauce: (10 minutes)
In sauce pan over medium-low heat, add 1 oz. of butter. After butter melts, add shalots and onions. Add a good pinch of salt. Sweat these aromatics for 5-10 minutes or until translucent. Stir every minute or two to prevent burning.
Move aromatics to the edges of the pan. Add another ounce of butter to the center. Add a handful of mushrooms to the center. Every 2 minutes, move the cooked mushrooms to the edge. Add more mushrooms/butter as needed. Do not crowd pan.
Making the rue: (10 minutes)
When all mushrooms are cooked, move all food in pan to one side, add the rest of the butter. When melted, stir in flour with a whisk. Ensure all the flour becomes saturated with butter to form a paste or loose dough.
Finish the sauce:
Add the milk to the pan. Increase the heat to medium. Stir to integrate the rue and the milk. With heat and stiring, the sauce should thicken to a chowder or alfredo like consistency in about 5 minutes. Do not let the sauce boil or it will break. Add salt and pepper to taste. You will need more salt.
At this point, you have a mighty fine Cream of Mushroom soup. If soup is what you want, you might thin this out with more milk.
Finish the casserole: (35 minutes)
Add the beans to the soup, stiring as needed to ensure even distribution. Let the soup simmer gently for about 5 minutes.
Grease the casserole dish with butter. Pour in soup. Evenly spinkle fried onions over the top. Bake casserole at 425F for 30 minutes.
After that time, remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Laddle out portions. Repeat as needed.