While putting my Thanksgiving menu together last week, I decided to make green bean casserole. From scratch.
Yeah, I’m weird that way.
There are a lot of recipes on the internet for green bean casserole from scratch, and almost all of them called for either canned fried onions or panko bread crumbs as the topping. I did find a couple that called for non-canned fried onions – well, one was for caramelized onions (that I knew the kids wouldn’t like) and the other had the onions heavily battered before frying (that, I wouldn’t like).
What I came up with was damn near a religious experience. Oh. My. GAWD. (See?) So, so, SO good. And while it was time consuming, it wasn’t hard at all, especially if you have a mandolin to slice the onions very, very thinly (if you don’t have a mandolin, you really need to get one). Fried in lard I had rendered myself, the onions were light and crispy and SO much better than those greasy things from a can (I had a hard time not eating them all before adding them to the casserole). The green beans were tender-crisp, and the sauce was a cheesy delight full of succulent, browned mushrooms and caramelized onions.
THIS is what green bean casserole was meant to be.
There’s no reason you couldn’t fry the onions and put the casserole together the day before; just put the fried onions in an airtight container until ready to use (and for heaven’s sake, keep them out of reach so you don’t eat them all!) and refrigerate the assembled casserole. Just bring it to room temperature before heating in the oven.
As written, this bakes in an 8″ x 8″ baking dish, but could could easily be doubled. I also used sprouted wheat flour and sprouted corn flour for the onion rings and arrowroot for the sauce; feel free to use all purpose flour and corn meal for the onions rings and all-purpose flour or corn starch for the sauce. I’ve included instructions for both flour and arrowroot.
Green Bean Casserole
1/2 large yellow onion, very thinly sliced
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sprouted whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup sprouted corn flour (or regular corn meal)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Lard or shortening or vegetable oil
8 ounces white button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 stick unsalted butter, divided
3/4 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed
2 cups whole milk at room temperature
salt and pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour OR 1 to 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350º F.
Pour 1 cup milk into a medium-sized mixing bowl; in another medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, corn flour or corn meal, salt and pepper. Add enough fat (lard, shortening or vegetable oil) to a large, heavy-bottomed skillet to measure a depth of about 1 to 1 1/2 inches; heat the fat to a temperature of 350º F.
Working in batches, drop a handful of the very thinly sliced onion rings into the milk. Using a fork, transfer them to the flour/corn meal mixture and toss until coated. Drop them into the hot fat, taking care not to crowd them, and fry until crispy and golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t become too brown or burn. Remove them from the hot fat with a fork or slotted spoon and place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Repeat until all of the onions have been fried. Set aside.
Bring 3 to 4 quarts of water to a boil; add 1 teaspoon salt. Add the green beans and parboil for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and add the green beans to a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. When cold, drain the green beans again and set aside.
In another large, heavy skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat. Cook the mushrooms without crowding, in batches if necessary, until golden and beginning to brown at the edges. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and reserve on a plate.
Add the remaining butter to the skillet if necessary, and add the onions to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are a soft and translucent, and just beginning to turn golden brown. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and reserve on the same plate as the mushrooms.
If using flour to thicken the sauce, pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the remaining butter from the skillet; return to the stove over medium low heat. Add the flour and whisk until a thin paste forms. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes then slowly add the 2 cups of room temperature milk, whisking continually. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick and smooth. Add the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses; stir until melted. Remove from heat; taste, and season with salt and pepper.
If using arrowroot powder to thicken the sauce, pour any remaining fat from the skillet and return to the stove over medium-low heat. Whisk the arrowroot powder into the 2 cups milk, and pour into the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick and smooth. Add the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses; stir until melted. Remove from heat; taste, and season with salt and pepper.
Add the mushrooms, sautéed onions and green beans to the cheese sauce, stir gently but thoroughly to coat the beans. Pour into the 8″ x 8″ baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and just beginning to brown. Remove the dish from the oven and scatter the fried onions evenly over the top of the dish; return to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes to crisp and brown the onions, watching the dish carefully so the onions don’t over-brown or burn.
Posted in participation with Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday