One of the sides being served at the restaurant’s Thanksgiving lunch was a classic green bean casserole. If there is one thing you should know about cooking for a chef, it’s that they do NOT want to eat anything close to what they cook/serve at the restaurant. It may have been their favorite food in the world before they started working at that particular restaurant, but I’ve got news for you, they aren’t touching it now! And if they try, they deserve a cookie.
So what do you do when YOU want something that is served the the RESTAURANT that your CHEF won’t touch? Find a recipe that is completely different from the classic recipe, and that changes up the flavors. Pioneer Woman’s green bean casserole did just that. It was just as comfort-food-esque as all the other recipes, but the flavors were very different from any I’d tasted before. At the end of the Thanksgiving meal, Nate and his friend both commented that I had managed to cook food that tasted nothing like the food at the restaurant, and for that they were very thankful!
An extra tidbit of information for you, the sauce you make for this dish is known as a Mornay sauce. Adding shredded cheese to the sauce makes it a Mornay sauce and not just a Bechamel sauce. A Mornay sauce can be used in lots of dishes with pasta, vegetables, meat, and fish. Chalk it up to the French for this classic, building block sauce, and refer to yourself as “chef” when making this dish!
*I tried to cut a corner by using frozen green beans. While it tasted fine, I can always tell the difference between fresh/frozen/canned. So I would recommend you use fresh green beans whenever possible, but you won’t be disappointed if you use frozen.
2 pounds fresh green beans, ends cut off (cut in half if you like smaller pieces)
4 slices bacon, slice into 1/4″ pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 an onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup half & half
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 4 oz jar pimentos, drained
1 cup breadcrumbs (original recipe calls for panko, I used Italian breadcrumbs)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
If using fresh green beans: Blanch the green beans: drop them into lightly salted boiling water and allow green beans to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain beans once they’re cool and add to a 9 x 13 baking dish.
If using frozen green beans: let thaw out completely and add to a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Cook bacon for two minutes in a skillet over medium heat, then add onions and garlic. Cook until bacon is done (not crispy) and onions are golden brown (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into the pan and whisk immediately. Cook for a minute or two, then pour in milk and half and half. Continue whisking constantly, while sauce thickens (about 2 minutes).
Add salt, pepper, cayenne, and the cheddar. Stir while cheese melts. Turn off heat.
Add pimentos, bacon & onion mixture to the cheese sauce. Stir to combine. Pour over green beans and stir gently to combine. Top casserole with breadcrumbs.
Bake for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and breadcrumbs are golden.