Sunday, November 2, 2014

Williams Sonoma All New Green Bean Casserole Recipe - Remixed #sundaysupper

Doing the Technique Classes at Williams-Sonoma has been an interesting experience that has been a lot of fun and an great learning adventure. Perhaps the most eye-opening thing for me was discovering how much knowledge of food and culinary history I have locked in my brain, it's about time I get some of that info in a shareable format, but for today it's just a remix of the Thanksgiving Modern Classic "Green Bean Casserole."

The original Green Bean Casserole recipe was created by an employee of the Campbell Soup Company called Dorcas Reilly in 1955. The recipe consisted of Canned Green Beans, Canned Cream of Mushroom Soup, and Canned Fried Onions. What foodies like me often forget is that the era of the New Frontier celebrated convenience and new technology; it was a period where doing without (as was the case with the Depression and the War) was in the past, the 1950's was a period of doing things the new modern American way! And the results were poodle skirts, the Edsel, and green bean casserole. The original recipe for Green Bean Casserole now has a place of honor in the National Inventors Hall Of Fame in Akron Ohio. (anyone for a roadtrip?)

In the repetoire of classes offered in Williams Sonoma stores in the Fall of 2009 was one called "Make Ahead Feast" which featured "The All-New Green Bean Casserole." That recipe was adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Comfort Foods by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009), and I have taken the WS adaption and re-mixed it a bit myself to meet the needs of the people in my class who lead some really busy lives. Here goes :

Ingredients :

1 1/2 - 2 pounds frozen cut green beans (use fresh trimmed green beans when in season)

2 Tbs unsalted butter

10 oz sliced baby bella (the little portobella) mushrooms (see variation below)

3 Tbs minced shallots (if shallots are not available, finely diced onion works well)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup half-and-half (using milk produces a less creamy, but equally delicious result)

1 cup chicken stock (see variation below)

1 tsp soy sauce


Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2 quart baking dish. (In our most recent class, and for my Thanksgiving Dinner I prepared the entire dish in a 4 1/2 quart oval Le Creuset Casserole which can be used on the stove top and in the oven)

Bring a large saucepan of salted boiling water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and cook until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. (We found that using a larger pot meant less of a temperature drop of the water when the frozen beans where added). Drain and rinse under cold water; allow excess water to drain off in a colander or pat dry with paper towels. (If in a hurry, giving the beans a good shake to remove most of the water worked well also)

In a saucepan over medium heat melt about half of the the unsalted butter. Add the sliced mushrooms until they are nicely browned and start to give off their juices. Stir in the minced shallots and cook until softened. Add the rest of the butter now (this butter, along with the juices from the mushrooms and shallots will create the sauce.) Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and stir well. (tossing all the flour in at one spot will create lumps, so sprinkle, I'd even go as far as calling this step "dusting")

Slowly stir in the half-and-half, stock and soy sauce. While stirring often, bring the mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat and allow the mixture to simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the green beans. Season to taste (each time I made the dish I seasoned with only pepper and everyone loved it). Pour the entire mixture into the baking dish.

(Up to this point the entire dish can be prepared the day ahead and stored, covered in the refigerator)

Bake the dish in the preheated 350F oven until the liquid is bubbling, about 20 minutes if going right into the oven, about 30 minutes if its coming from the refrigerator

The Williams Sonoma recipe called for dredging some shallot rings in flour and deep frying them to use as a topping which would be added just before serving. That's all well and good but I prefer to bring a little nostalgia to the recipe and use some of those wonderful Durkee Onions. (Of course, with all the wonderful fresh flavors going on in this casserole you might decide to skip the "topping" all together - no one in the classes seemed to mind!)

Variations : If Baby Bellas are not available, substitute common white champignons (yes, button mushrooms have a cool name).

To really switch things up try a dried mushroom mixture instead of fresh; rehydrate the mushrooms reserving any remaining liquid to replace some of the chicken stock. This variation is uber mushroomy.