This is not your mother’s green bean casserole. Not that I have anything against her, of course; I am sure she’s absolutely wonderful. What I mean by that statement is this: sherry, mushroom, and garlic roux + fresh green beans + homemade crispy onions. Can I get an amen? Anything you might have had against green bean casserole can temporarily be put on hold until you try this version. How do I know? I myself used to be an unbeliever. I remember dramatically trying to choke down canned green beans as a kid, (thankfully my mother didn’t make them often) and therefore I deduced that all green beans must be the same. Then Deb Perelman led me to the light with her green bean casserole with crispy onions and I turned over a new leaf.
There’s no need to throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to green bean casserole. Sure, ridding yourself of canned beans mixed with canned soup is undoubtedly noble. But for those of us who need a little (or a lot) of tradition in our lives, keep this tradition going but upgrade it a notch.
SHERRY AND MUSHROOM GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s green bean casserole with crispy onions
serves 6-8 as a side dish
2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons panko or plain breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon table salt
freshly ground black pepper
high-heat oil, for deep-frying
green bean filling:
1 pound green beans, trimmed and halved or cut into thirds
3 tablespoons butter
1 pound mushrooms, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon table salt
2 -3 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sherry or cream sherry (I used cream sherry)
few gratings fresh nutmeg
Make your crispy onions: Toss your thinly sliced onion in a large bowl with the flour, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Heat about an inch of oil in a heavy saucepan to approximately 360 degrees F. Deep fry your onions in batches to a light golden brown- remember, they will become even crispier in the oven later! It took me three medium batches to fry all the onion.
Blanch green beans: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add your green beans and cook for 5 minutes, then drain and plunge in a bath of ice water for 1 minute. Drain again and set aside. If using haricot vert or skinny green beans, blanch for 3 minutes instead of 5.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large saucepan (preferably one that is oven-proof so you can wash one less dish), melt butter over medium heat. I used an oval, 12.5″ x 9″cast iron baking dish for both my sautéing and baking. A 10″ lodge cast iron skillet would also work well. Next, add chopped mushrooms, salt, pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Mix in flour and cook for another minute. Then add broth slowly, about ¼ cup at a time, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer for approximately 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream and sherry and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Grate some fresh nutmeg into your sauce and taste for seasoning (if you don’t have fresh nutmeg but have ground nutmeg, add a pinch or two). Add more salt and pepper if needed. Stir in green beans and top with crispy onions. Bake on a low rack of your oven for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the onions are dark brown and crispy.