Al Dente On The Side: Green beans with crispy shallots

Fact: Green bean casserole is to American cuisine as Spaghetti O’s are to Italian cooking. It’s crap. Garbage. It has no place at any table, let alone one as important as Thanksgiving.

At no point in American history did mixing frozen or canned green beans with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions from a can adorn any table of significance. It is the Walmart of side dishes. It is the fruitcake of Thanksgiving. It cheapens any dinner or holiday at which it is served. It is nothing more than a heated bowl of high blood pressure and type two diabetes. If you eat it and like it, you should feel bad about yourself. Someone should come by your house with a rolled up newspaper and wack you across the snout like a dog.

I add this is from CNN‘s Eatocracy blog:

Now the grey-green beans in this dish are bad enough, but it was truly all over for me the first time I got a look at the secret ingredient keeping its gelatinous shape after it had been slurped out of the can and into the waiting saucepan. Note to special effects folks: nothing looks so much like actual barf than a cold can of mushroom soup, it’s got chunks and everything!

Yet, I love green beans and wanted to work them into the vegetables I was bringing to The Wife’s aunt’s house for Thanksgiving. I wanted something more than just a flash-fried bean or another roasted veggie. With some help from the genius Mark Bittman, I hit somewhere in the middle.

In his dish, shallots are made crispy in butter and olive oil and added to the top of the beans when ready to serve. Pretty easy to make and, look, all of the beans retained their natural green color.


Green beans with crispy shallots
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything: The Basics

  • 3 lbs. green beans, trimmed and rinsed
  • 3 medium shallots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the butter melts, add the shallots and toss in the grease with a wooden spoon to coat. Let cook until well-browned and crispy, stirring occasionally. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shallots to a dish lined with paper towels. Set the shallots aside and keep the pan with the grease.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil and salt liberally. Blanch beans, cooking up to 5 minutes, or so they are tender but crunchy. Drain beans and immediately chill with ice water to stop cooking.

Toss beans in the skillet or Dutch oven, coating with the butter-olive oil mixture. Cook until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add to a serving dish and top evenly with the shallots.


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