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Thanksgiving Recipe: Alex Guarnaschelli’s Green Bean Casserole

by Grace Bonney

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Marrying a professional food and cookbook writer has made food a much bigger part of my life, but it’s always played an important role. For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched Food Network with my mom, and it provided much needed comfort (in the form of Barefoot Contessa reruns) during my freshman year of college when home felt a little too far away. One of my favorite shows to watch when I need some inspiration is Chopped. I like to hit “pause” and ask Julia what dish she would cook with the mystery basket ingredients. I love the show so much we even interviewed Chopped’s culinary producer to find out more about how those weird and daunting basket combinations (Asian pears, croissants, haricot verts, and rattlesnake?) happen. So when I thought about sharing a few extra holiday recipes this year, I looked to one of my favorite Chopped judges, Alex Guarnaschelli.

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Green Bean Casserole is a classic holiday side dish, but the traditional method that involves a gloppy can of soup was never my cup of tea. This version keeps all the rich flavor (and crispy onions) that I grew up loving, but focuses on fresh ingredients and making the traditionally pre-packaged elements from scratch. I will always love my grandmother’s green bean casserole, but this one might have to go into my holiday rotation this year. Thanks so much to Alex for sharing this with us! xo, grace

Click through for the full recipe after the jump!

Reprinted from Alex Guarnaschelli, Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned To Cook

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Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients:
-Kosher salt
-1 pound string beans, ends trimmed, halved
-4 tablespoons unsalted butter
-1 pound white mushrooms, stemmed and sliced into 1/2-inch slices (about 4 cups)
-1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
-1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1 cup low sodium chicken broth
-1 cup heavy cream
-1 cup sour cream
-4 cups canola oil
-2 medium red onions, cut into thin rounds

Steps:

1. Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice cubes and add some cold water. Set a colander squarely inside the ice bath. The colander will keep you from having to pick the ice out of the beans.

2. Prepare the green beans: When the water boils, add 2 tablespoons salt and the green beans. Cook until the beans yield slightly when pierced with the tip of a knife, 4 minutes. Using a strainer, remove the green beans from the hot water and transfer them to the colander inside the ice bath. Swirl the beans around in the bath so they cool quickly. Drain and set aside.

3. Make the mushroom base: In a 10-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the mushrooms. Season with salt, 1 teaspoon of the cayenne, and the mustard. Stir to blend and cook until the mushrooms give off most of their liquid, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a whisk, add the garlic and 2 tablespoons of the flour. When all of the flour has been incorporated, add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the cream and sour cream and simmer gently. Continue cooking over low heat until the mixture thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. You should have about 2 cups.

4. Preheat the oven to 350F.

5. Fry the onions: Meanwhile, pour the oil into a medium frying pan. Heat to 350F. Line a baking sheet with a kitchen towel and have ready a slotted spoon.

6. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ¼ cup flour and remaining ½ teaspoon cayenne. Toss the onion rounds in the flour and shake off excess by shaking the rounds in a strainer. Test the oil by dropping in one onion slice. It should begin to bubble and fry gradually. Drop a small batch of the onions into the oil and gently swirl them as they fry. When they are light to medium brown, 1 to 2 minutes, remove with the slotted spoon and lay them out on the kitchen towel to cool. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat until all of the onions have been fried.

7. Assemble the casserole: Stir the green beans into the mushrooms. Simmer on the stove, over low heat, until the green beans become tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in half of the onions. Transfer the skillet to the oven for 10 minutes to give the casserole that baked effect. Top the outside of the dish with the remaining onions and serve.

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