October 27, 2015

Family Unity Matters

October 27, 2015

Green Bean Casserole 3 Ways

October 27, 2015

When I decided to kick off my holiday recipes with my mother’s green bean casserole, I was surprised to discover that her recipe has more ingredients than the versions I found online. That may explain why her version is so good. When I was a child, we did not have fresh vegetables year round. I remember when Mama and my aunts started sharing recipes for doctoring up canned vegetables in the’50s. Most of those recipes were developed and advertised by Campbell Soup. I typed up all the family recipes for my daughter-in-law when she married into our family in 1989, so I have no idea whether the changes prior to then were made by Mama or—less likely—by me. About 10 years ago, I moved from all canned ingredients to mostly fresh; and last Christmas, after noticing that the grandchildren preferred the plain green beans on the kitchen stove to the casserole, I switched from a casserole to a sauce. Below are all three versions.

Mama’s Traditional Green Bean Casserole

½ cup butter or margarine
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 small onion, minced
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 16-ounce cans green beans, drained
1 small can water chestnuts, sliced
Slivered almonds
Tabasco, salt, pepper to taste
1 can French-fried onion rings

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sauté mushrooms and onions in melted butter until soft. Blend in soup and cheese; season to taste. In a 3-quart casserole, place half the beans, water chestnuts, sauce; repeat. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake uncovered 30 minutes or until bubbly. (Allow up to 1 hour if casserole is doubled or it has been refrigerated.) Sprinkle with onion rings; bake 5 minutes. Serves 8.

Updated Green Bean Casserole

2 pounds lightly cooked, well-flavored fresh green beans, preferably matchstick French style
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sliced brown mushrooms, no stems
1 small onion, minced
2 small cans sliced water chestnuts, drained
½ cup slivered almonds
3 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 can French-fried onion rings
Salt, pepper, Worcestershire, Tabasco sauce

In a dutch oven, melt butter; add one at a time onion, mushrooms, water chestnuts and almonds. Sauté until onions are translucent and mushrooms have absorbed liquid. Over low heat, stir in soup until blended; then stir in cheese until melted. Remove from heat. Add drained green beans and season to taste. Spoon into a 3-quart casserole with lid (or use foil).

May be made ahead; safe to leave on at room temperature for several hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a shallow 3-quart casserole at room temperature, bake 30 minutes. A deep casserole and/or a refrigerated casserole will require about 1 hour. The sauce should be bubbly. Remove lid; sprinkle top of casserole with French-fried onion rings; bake uncovered for 5 minutes. Serves 10–12.

Fresh Green Beans With Mushroom Cheese Sauce

2 pounds fresh green beans, preferably matchstick French style
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup chopped brown mushrooms, no stems
½ cup minced onion
1 small can chopped water chestnuts, drained
3 tablespoons flour
1½ cups milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce (optional)
¼ cup toasted slivered almonds (optional)
1 can French-fried onion rings (optional)

Cook 2 pounds fresh green beans to desired tenderness.

While green beans are cooking, sauté onions, mushrooms and water chestnuts in melted butter. When onions are translucent, stir in 3 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper; continue stirring until flour thickens and begins to brown. Gradually stir in milk; when well blended, stir in grated cheese; stir until cheese is melted. Season to taste.

Serve the green beans in a vegetable dish sprinkled with toasted almonds slivers. Serve the sauce on the side, along with a small bowl of French-fried onion rings. Serves 8.