Thursday, December 2, 2010

Green Bean Casserole & Brussels sprouts

Green Bean Casserole:

Nearly everyone I know serves this dish during the holidays. Most people make it with cream of mushroom soup. This year I tried a more "home made" version of it. I used PW's recipe as inspiration, the original can be found here. But... I made a few modifications....

You'll need:
  • 2 pounds Fresh Green Beans, Ends Cut Off (or frozen)
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 8 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 8 Tablespoons Butter, divided
  • 4 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • 3 cups Half-and-half
  • Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • Extra Milk For Thinning If Necessary
  • 1 container French Fried Onions
Blanch the green beans: drop them into lightly salted boiling water and allow green beans to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain beans once they’re cool and set aside. If you are using frozen green beans all you need to do is drop the frozen green beans in the boiling water and cook for only a minute or so - they'll be very tender as soon as they thaw. Proceed as described for fresh beans.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a pan, add garlic and mushrooms and continue cooking for 3 to 5 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to soften. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a separate skillet or saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into the pan and whisk immediately to evenly mix it into the butter. Cook for a minute or two, then add in the cream cheese. This will become VERY thick - you literally won't be able to stir it. You just want to sort of mix the butter/flour mixture with the cream cheese and then you pour in half and half. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, while sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add salt & pepper, adjust amounts as needed.

Add garlic/mushroom mixture. Stir to combine. Add in between 2/3 and 3/4 of the container of french fried onions & mix well. Pour over green beans and stir gently to combine. Pour into a baking dish and top with the remaining french fried onions.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and the topping is golden. If you make this ahead of time you'll need to adjust the cooking time to account for it being completely cooled before it goes in the oven.

Brussels Sprouts with Cream & Bacon (and Mushrooms!)

I got this recipe originally from Better Homes & Gardens online - here's the link to the original recipe. I reduced the quantity of brussels sprouts to 1 lb and added about a cup of chopped mushrooms a minute before adding the chicken broth. This dish has a subtle nutty flavor.

A few things to be aware of :
First - start the sprouts all cut side down if you can manage it (I didn't)- this gives them a nicely browned edge - I suggest this because it'll be a lot prettier if you can.
Second - do NOT overcook these. I think most people dislike sprouts because of the way they taste when they're over cooked. When you cut them in half it takes only a few minutes to cook them. If you're cooking multiple side dishes, leave this one till the last 15 minutes.
Third - This dish is a bit marginal when it comes to reheating - the best flavors and textures are to be had within the first 20 minutes of cooking.

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