Ah, the green bean casserole. Beloved staple at many a middle-American Thanksgiving table. Like most people, I can appreciate the simplicity of mixing a few canned ingredients together, baking and serving. But in recent years, I’ve started to feel a little disappointed by the heavy sauce and — dare I say it — mushy, tinny-tasting canned beans. So I embarked on a mission to make a similar tasting version using fresh, from-scratch ingredients.
I found a genius recipe from Kitchen Parade that called for fresh mushrooms and green beans, white wine, sherry, cream and — the best part — it could be made days in advance and frozen until you’re ready to bake and serve. Fabulous.
I ended up using frozen, diced green beans instead of fresh…mainly because the beans in our store looked kind of sad, and because I was feeling lazy. The results were still great. The beans had just enough bite to tell you they were green beans (instead of mush), the sauce added a familiar-but-better taste, and the topping — a combination of those fun crispy onions and Japanese panko crumbs — was divinely crunchy.
My last remaining concern was JiT. When I first announced my canned-casserole swap-out intentions, he was not a fan of my little holiday coup. A staunch believer in the mushy version, he was only swayed after I made him a test batch and he promptly inhaled every last bean.
Though this version clearly requires more time that the can-dump version, the ingredients are easy to find and it only takes about 30 minutes to mix it all together. Bake it immediately or stick it in the freezer for later. I promise you won’t be sorry.
From-Scratch Green Bean Casserole
Adapted from Kitchen Parade
Makes 10 servings
SAUCE & BEANS
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 medium cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup flour
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 small chicken boullion cube
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup cream
1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Additional salt & pepper to taste
2 pounds frozen, chopped green beans (still frozen)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup panko crumbs (near the Japanese foods in your grocery)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups canned fried onions, chopped
In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter on medium heat til melted. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the mushrooms are cooked. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to incorporate. A quarter cup at a time, stir in the chicken stock, letting addition become absorbed before adding another. The mixture will begin thickening as you go. Add the boullion cupe and stir in the wine, cream and milk. Bring to a boil and let simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the sherry. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper, if needed. The sauce should be on the salty/peppery side, since the beans themselves are unseasoned.
While the sauce cooks, toss the beans and cornstarch well. Pour the mushroom sauce over the top and toss to combine. Transfer to a 9×13 ceramic baking dish.
At this point, you can either freeze the dish, using the instructions below, or continue right on to baking.
To Freeze: Cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure there’s no air between the beans and the plastic. Wrap with foil. Freeze. Do not thaw before baking.
Topping: While casserole is baking, combine topping ingredients in a bowl and toss until the butter is evenly distributed. Set aside until the last 10 minutes of baking.
To Bake: Preheat oven to 400F.
If casserole is frozen, remove plastic wrap from casserole, then replace the foil. Bake for 30 minutes, stir, leave the foil off and bake for another 50 minutes. Spread topping over the casserole, bake for another 10 minutes until golden.
If casserole is freshly made or thawed, bake covered in foil for 30 minutes, stir and add the topping. Bake for another 10 minutes until the casserole is bubbly and the topping is golden.