This, my friends, is what comfort food should be. This is pure joy spread in a 9x13 pan. I am forever indebted to Cooks Illustrated for introducing me to this recipe. They came out with it just in time for Thanksgiving last year. And in honor of PB&J and the Middle Carrotstick, who are out in the wilds of eastern Wyoming with their professional hunting guides -- C,B & D --shooting these:
noble, majestic birds --
I will share with you this Turkey-day classic reborn:
Green Bean Blissful Creamy Casserole Joy
4 slices white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups canned fried onions (about 6 ounces)
Beans and Sauce:
2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed, and halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound white button mushrooms, stems trimmed, wiped clean, and broken into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
Ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
FOR THE TOPPING: Pulse bread, butter, and pepper in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer to large bowl and toss with onions; set aside.
FOR THE BEANS AND SAUCE: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven. Add 2 tablespoons salt and beans. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Drain beans in colander and plunge immediately into ice water to stop cooking. Spread beans on paper-towels to drain.
Add butter to now-empty Dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add mushrooms, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to 3 1/2 cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in even layer in 3-quart (or 13"x 9") baking dish. Sprinkle with topping and bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling around edges, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
A word of warning: it takes a long time to trim and cut 2 pounds of fresh green beans. At times like this it's a good idea to enlist help -- your spouse, your children (if you can trust them with a paring knife) or even people you might meet on the street (will work for food?) ((if you can trust them with a knife.)) But the end result is so, so worth it. Just plan ahead.
P.S. The Oldest Carrotstick took the picture of the Turkey during the infamous Goat Milk experience. She is very proud of it. She now wants to be a professional wildlife photographer. And I'm not kidding!