Yes…I said it…and I made it. The dreaded word in my culinary lexicon: casserole. I vowed I would never create, let alone publicize, a recipe for anything with the words loaf, medley or casserole in them once my cooking career began. But I caved. For some reason, maybe because I have my own family now and am starting my own traditions, I have been feeling very nostalgic this Thanksgiving. And to truly capture the mood of the holiday, I decided to make a dish from my past. Pulling out my mother’s old Campbell’s Soup Cookbook from the late 1960’s, I found the traditional holiday menu: turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes…and who could forget the green bean casserole. I knew this was a popular item…but there had to be a way to make it equally as sinful, yet remove the faux-food ingredients (tins of “creamy” soup and deep-fried onion rings aren’t usually lurking in the Daily Apple pantry, I’m afraid.) So, Chris and I deconstructed the recipe…and found a wholesome version (with a little help from Martha Stewart!) using fresh Ontario mushroom, shallots and onions, Harmony dairy milk (yes..from the glass bottles!) and Stirling Farms butter. Nothing processed. Nothing canned. Nothing simulated. Simple…and scrumptious. Enjoy!
What’s In It
6 tablespoons Stirling Whey Butter (whey butter is WAY BETTER!)
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 purple pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 pound cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed, quartered
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
6 tablespoons spelt flour
2 cups whole milk
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup spelt breadcrumbs
1/4 cup olive oil
4 shallots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rings
How to make it
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion, and sauté until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add bell pepper and mushrooms, and cook until softened and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside to cool.
Prepare an ice bath: Fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add beans, and cook until bright green and just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, and plunge into ice bath to stop cooking. When cooled, toss drained beans with mushroom mixture; set aside.
Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup flour, whisk constantly until mixture begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Pour in milk, and continue whisking until mixture has thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in cayenne, and the remaining teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Pour over beans, and toss to combine.
Grease a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking pan with a touch of olive oil. Spread half the green-bean mixture over the bottom. Sprinkle on half the grated Parmesan, and spread with the remaining green beans. Combine the remaining Parmesan and the breadcrumbs, and sprinkle over casserole. Cover with foil, and refrigerate until just before serving.
Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Toss shallot rings with the remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Fry the shallots in batches, turning frequently, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Place in an airtight container, and set aside until ready to serve.
Heat broiler, positioning rack about 8 inches from heat. Cook casserole, covered, until mixture is bubbly and heated through, about 10 minutes. Uncover, and cook until top is golden brown, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle fried shallots over top, and serve immediately