The 6th day of Thanksgiving: green bean casserole

ON THE SIXTH DAY OF THANKSGIVING, MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: SIX CUPS OF GREEN BEANS, 5 decorative gourds4 colanders3 fancy breads2 brining turkeys, and a pork shoulder of carnitas.

Let’s be honest. There’s a reason why all of those Betty Crocker-type/back-of-the-box/side-of-the-can recipes stick around year after year. They taste really good. Each Thanksgiving at my sister’s house, I always go back for a second helping of the broccoli-cheese casserole. The Ritz crackers proudly lay crumbled on top, the previously frozen broccoli spears swim happily around in the canned mushroom soup. Delicious. Thankfully, my cousin and not I, is responsible for providing this dish because I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to cooking. I’d insist on using fresh ingredients and mess the whole thing up. I have a need (sometimes) to make things from scratch. In doing so, I get a sense of accomplishment and then timely gratification that, when mothering my children, is mostly non-existent. So when given the time and opportunity, I make my own soups, tomato sauce, croutons, salad dressings, etc. Please don’t judge me. I use canned pumpkin, and the Trader Joe’s mac ‘n cheese in a box is a staple in my pantry. 

All that said, Emeril Lagasse created a green bean casserole recipe that’s a twist on the old classic. I simplified it because, well, I may be a little snobbish but I’m not crazy and I don’t have all day.

Relatively Simple Emerilized Green Bean Casserole
3 tablespoons butter
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1 medium onion, thinly sliced into rings and 1 cup chopped onion
¼ cup Crystal hot sauce (because it’s full of flavor but not spicy like Tabasco)
about 1 cup of flour
¾ teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning
¼ cup celery, chopped
1 ½ teaspoon garlic, minced
½ pound mushrooms, cleaned with ends trimmed and sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup chicken broth
¼ cup heavy cream
6 cups green beans, fresh with ends trimmed (this is supposed to be about 1 pound but that didn’t fit in with the “8 days of Thanksgiving”)
1/3 lb. Fontina cheese, rind removed, cubed 

Preheat oven to 350° and grease, with butter, an 8×8 casserole or other baking dish about that size.
Blanch (steam) the green beans in salted water and drain.
Heat about 2” of vegetable oil in a large saucepan or deep fryer. Separate the onion slices into individual rings and toss with the hot sauce. Then dredge in flour and cook in hot oil until just golden, working in batches. Transfer to paper towel.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and sauté the celery, onions and garlic. Add the mushrooms, Creole seasoning and salt and cook until the mushrooms are soft. Sprinkle with about 1 ½ tablespoons flour and stir to combine, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and heavy cream and continue cooking until mixture is thick and creamy.
In a large bowl, combine the green beans, mushroom sauce, and cubed Fontina cheese. Transfer to the casserole dish and top with the fried onions. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Serves 6-8, so double the recipe if needed.

I was going to recommend visiting your local Starbucks for the seasonal Thanksgiving blend which I’m drinking right now. It’s dark, nutty and a little herbal – but guess what? The day before Turkey Day, this coffee is nowhere to be found. You can ask the manager if they have any in the back, but my Starbucks already looks as if it threw up Christmas. Pity.

Next: 7 yams a-sweetening

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