This year I was asked to make the one thing I hate to make for the holidays, green bean casserole. You know the one, with the nasty gelatinous mushroom soup, rubbery green beans, and the dreaded oily over salted onion topping. Being that I am Chef and I refuse to run from such challenge I decided to figure out a way I could make this recipe without ruining my self pride.
So here is what I came up with, yes it requires you to actually cook and use technique, if this scares you I understand. Thats fine, stick with your side of soup can label recipe, but if you long for something a little more honest and delicious then give this a try.
There are two main steps to this recipe, the sauce and the beans
Blanch green beans:
For this recipe I recommend you use a bean that has some girth to it, because you need it to stand up to the sauce and not get mushy when baking. Choose crisp, brightly colored green beans that are blemish-free. Avoid green beans that are limp or have shriveled ends.
1 1/2 pounds of green beans.
Cut off the bean tips on both ends, removing the woody stem and the thin, curly tail. Cut off and discard any discolored or softened portions of the beans. Wash the raw beans well under running water prior to cooking them.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, using 1 gallon per pound of beans; salt is optional. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, carefully lower the beans into the water and wait for it to return to a boil. At that point, let the beans cook for another 3 minutes, then remove them quickly using a strainer ladle or tongs.
As soon as you pull the beans from the water, immediately plunge them into a prepared bowl of ice water. Leave the beans submerged for as long as it took to blanch them, usually 3 to 5 minutes. Thoroughly drain the beans after cooling them.
Cut them to about 3/4 inch pieces and set them aside.
Gruyere and Mushroom Béchamel Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk, heated
1/2 grated Gruyere cheese
Freshly ground pepper
5oz Golden Shiitake mushrooms
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until the mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mushrooms are tender, 5 to 8 more minutes. They should be a nice brown caramelized color, but not over done and rubbery. Set aside until your sauce is done.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Stir in 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
When you have both of these steps done you can add the green beans, mushrooms, and white sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes, once done please rest for at least 5 minutes.
For a topping that will add a nice crunch, I used chow mein crunchy noodles and sprinkled them on top before serving.