Thursday, November 24, 2011

(Not Your Mama's) Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole

This was the best green bean casserole that I've ever had (if I do say so myself).  SO much better than the questionable cream of... soup, mushy caned green beans, and fat laden fried onions.  And it's really not that much more difficult to throw together than the processed version, but it has much more flavor, and much less calories.  I was inspired by Alton Brown's version, but I lightened it up a bit, added some herbs, and completely changed out the topping.  I wanted to capture the crunch and flavor of the fried onions, without the grease and fat.  I think that the crunch of the bread crumbs paired with the flavor of the caramelized onions does that quite nicely... in fact, I think it has more flavor than the fried onions, without the heavy feeling in your stomach from the grease.

For the topping:

-2 slices whole wheat sandwich bread toasted and chopped into crumbs (a food processor makes quick work of this)
-2 Tbsp butter, melted

For the caramelized onions:
-1 Tbsp butter
-2 onions, thinly sliced
-1/2 tsp salt

For beans and sauce:
-1 Tbsp plus 1/2 tsp salt, divided
-2 lbs  green beans (fresh or frozen), rinsed, trimmed and halved
-1 Tbsp butter
-12 oz mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp thyme
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
-1 c chicken broth
-1 c fat-free half-and-half

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sliced onions, saute 10, stirring often.  Reduce heat to medium-low, add 1/2 tsp salt, cook an additional 30 minutes (or until golden brown), stirring often.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring a gallon of water and 1 Tbsp of salt to a boil in medium pot. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and nutmeg, and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low, and add the fat-free half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.   Remove from the heat and stir in the green beans.  Spread the green bean mixture into a greased, medium sized baking dish.  Top with the caramelized onions. Top with the whole wheat bread crumbs, and then sprinkle with the melted butter.  Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.

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