Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Skillet green bean casserole - the from-scratch substitute for that glop from a can (no offense meant to the glop) - by request

My first foray into recipe blogging!  If you have access to the Cook's Illustrated recipe database, go there and search for Skillet Green Beans, of which this is an annotated adaptation.


For the fried shallots:
     3 large shallots, slice thin – onions taste fine, but shallots fry up so much more prettily.  Onions will never look as nice as the canned fried onions. The shallots will look better.
     ¼ teaspoon salt
     1/8 teaspoon pepper – more could hardly hurt – to taste, as they say
     2 tablespoons flour
     3 tablespoons vegetable oil – olive oil is nice, too

For the mushrooms:
     10 ounces mushrooms, sliced ¼ inch thick – I’ve used any number of kinds of mushrooms, alone or in combination.  No bad answer here.  Add a smidgen of truffle oil and blow people away!
     2 tablespoons vegetable oil
     ¼ teaspoon salt

For the green beans, etc.:
     2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or olive oil)
     1 medium onion, minced
     1 tablespoon flour
     2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed – definitely adjust to taste here
     1 ½ pounds green beans, ends trimmed, unless you love green bean ends
     3 sprigs fresh thyme
     2 bay leaves
     ¾ cup heavy cream – half and half is almost as good
     ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth – in France, I used veal bouillon cubes, and I’ll bet a mushroom broth would be pretty good.


1. The fried shallots
Toss shallots with salt, pepper, and flour in small bowl.  Heat 3 tbsp oil in skillet over medium-heat until smoking.  Add shallots.  Cook, stirring frequently, until nice and crisp.  Dump the contents of the pan onto a plate lined with paper towels.

2. The mushrooms - this step just sautés them.
Wipe out the skillet.  Return to medium-high heat.  Add 2 tbsp oil, mushrooms, and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned.  Maybe 8 minutes.  Transfer to bowl.

Note that these two steps can be done early. That holiday dinner – time management is crucial!

3. The green beans – maybe 15 minutes, right before serving.
Wipe out the skillet, or use a different pan, if you enjoy washing pans.  Heat butter until foaming subsides.  Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes or so.  Stir in garlic and flour (a little thickener).  Add green beans, thyme, and bay leaves.  Pour in cream and chicken broth, give it all a good stir, and increase heat.  Cover and cook green beans for about four minutes, for a little bit of steaming.  Add mushrooms and cook, uncovered, about 4 minutes more.  The green beans will be cooked, and the sauce will have thickened a bit.  If you are busy and let it cook a little longer, eh, it'll be all right.  Toss out the thyme and bay leaves.  A little more salt or pepper?  That’s up to you, chef.  If you are truly decadent, mix in a huge dollop of extra butter - even I don't do this.  Pour into your prettiest serving dish, and top with the fried shallots.

Serves 8.

Let’s review.  All basic ingredients.  Much lower sodium than using the canned soup.  Probably not lower fat, or not much!  It’s all on the stovetop, so you’re not competing with the turkey for oven space.  And I tell you, it’s those homemade fried shallots that really impress people.  No one expects it, and it's not even difficult.


  1. Since our Turkey Day has come and gone up here in America's Hat, I will just make the fried shallots and then eat them.

  2. I don't see any problem with that. They's tasty!

  3. Thank you for posting the recipe, AR! I was going to write to ask about it, too, but got distracted with work and, yes, "that" grocery shopping... the recipe sounds great so I may just have to try it tomorrow.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Change the heavy cream to soy milk and the chicken broth to veggie broth for us vegans and this sounds quite tasty :-) Have a good Thanksgiving!

  5. Ah, soy milk. Not an ingredient in my repertoire. That'll do it - with substitues, it is a vegetarian (and vegan) friendly dish.

    I hope people enjoy it.

  6. I thought of you when we had the soup version of this dish yesterday. I will put the recipe in my book and try it next year. Because tradition can't be messed with peremptorily, at least not in my family.

  7. I should admit that I will eat the tradtional, semi-homemade version with enthusiasm.