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At the height of the atomic age, canned foods and anything encased in gelatin were all the rage. Commercial food companies everywhere were vying for the attention of housewives in the new suburbs of America. They came up with all sorts of crazy (and many times, unappetizing) recipes that could be whipped up in a hurry with their products. Campbell’s Soup was no different. In 1955, test cook, Dorcas Reilly (who names their kid Dorcas?), began throwing together typical pantry staples to come up with a dish that would be simple for the everyday cook to put together. What she came up with has become the epitome of Thanksgiving side dishes for the last 60 years. She invented the Green Bean Casserole.
Now, I’ve had my fair share of this classic casserole over the years, and quite frankly, I’ve never been impressed with it. It’s gloopy and has a one-note taste reminiscent of a musty basement. To top it off, there is so much salt in the canned soup that I can almost guarantee that I will go up a ring size by the end of the meal. And this is where I make my plea:
Please, stop with the canned “cream of” soups already.
It’s a nickel’s worth of ingredients that you are paying a dollar and a half for, and it is dead simple to make yourself. You probably already have the ingredients on hand. Not to mention, it will taste so much better. This recipe, is the “from scratch” version of green bean casserole. Does it take longer to put together? Sure it does. Is it worth the extra 15 minutes of effort? Definitely. Please, put down the canned soup and make your Thanksgiving table a little happier.
- ½ cup dried mushrooms please see note
- 2 pounds fresh green beans washed and trimmed
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 ½ cups fried onions
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter 2 8-inch baking dishes or 1 9x13 baking dish.
- Cover the dried mushrooms with 1 cup of boiling water and let stand while you assemble the rest of the ingredients. Squeeze out the excess water from the mushrooms and finely chop. Reserve the soaking liquid.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the green beans for 4 minutes. Drain and immerse the beans immediately into cold water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
- In the same large pot, melt the butter over medium high heat and sauté onion and garlic for 3 minutes or until the onion becomes translucent. Stir in the chopped mushrooms and salt and pepper and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in ½ cup of the reserved mushroom liquid, then the chicken broth. Sauce should be quite thick at this point. Reduce heat to a simmer and whisk in the heavy cream. Cook and stir for 3-5 minutes until the sauce has reduced and become very thick, like pancake batter. Remove from heat and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in the beans and then divide the mixture evenly between the baking dishes (if you are using 2). Top each with the breadcrumbs, then the onions. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
- Note: Dried mushrooms can be found in the Asian aisle usually, but if you can’t find them use ½ cup finely chopped button mushrooms instead and increase the chicken broth to 1 cup.