green bean casserole (WHB#119: mushroom)

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recipe: Green Bean Casserole with Mushroom Sauce

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB) #118 #119
Button Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus)

(click on image for larger view and more photos)

green bean casserole It might look a bit like dog’s breakfast here but you’ll have to take our word (and Alanna’s) for it. This really is the best green bean casserole!

I saw this casserole as a result of following the link to more recipes at the bottom of the post entitled “Quick Ways to Doctor a Bag of Green Beans” on Alanna Kellogg’s (A Veggie Venture) blog*. It was the title “World’s Best Green Bean Casserole” that caught my eye. And Alanna’s description of it kept me firmly on the page:

That’s a lofty name, World’s Best Green Bean Casserole. I might even go so far as to call it the World’s Best Casserole, bar none. It’s absolutely delicious.

I adore green beans. I neeeeded to make this! Firmly hooked, I read further:

It’s updated from that ooey-gooey mess of canned green beans, canned mushroom soup and yucky canned onions. (Yucky canned onions? Read on!) […] I’ve never bought canned onions until now but for this, absolutely.

Glup… canned onions? My only experience with canned onions is those horrible little pearl onions lurking in equally horrible canned peas of my childhood. The same three peas and one pearl onion that lay congealing on my plate on the kitchen table where I sat banished because I hadn’t finished my dinner. I would stare at them sadly, listening forelornly to the rest of the family happily chatting and laughing as they ate dessert in the dining room. And I thought, “Alanna wants me to sully green beans with those canned onions??” She must be crazy! We’ll make the casserole without the canned onions.

And off I went to approach T with the idea having a green bean casserole. I began by getting the topping out of the way. Scoffing, I asked T if he had ever heard of canned onions.

T: Of course! …mmmmmmm

me: Canned onions?

T: Mmmm… mmmhmmmm…. (pause) Why?

me: Apparently there’s a green bean casserole made with mushroom soup.

T: Mmmmmm… mmmhmmmm…. (dreamy eyed look and hushed voice) Mom used to make that all the time.

me: Let’s try it. It sounds good. We don’t have to use the canned onio…

T: (interrupting) Let’s have it tonight! And let’s buy some canned onions today! Wait til you try them! You’ll love them!! Come on!! Let’s go!!!

The standard green bean casserole recipe calls for canned green beans. But why would we use canned beans when fresh are so much better?! It also calls for canned cream of mushroom soup but as per Alanna’s advice, we made our own mushroom soup.

And of course, it calls for canned onions. As you may have already guessed, I was reluctant to use the canned onions. But we did because Alanna said we had to. (We’re very obedient.) Not to mention that it turns out that canned onions are fabulously crispy. They’re not at all what I was expecting. They’re wonderful!

But they can’t be good for us! Even though they were so fantastic tasting, they’re not exactly cheap. Reading the ingredients list, I see they’re also laced with hydrogenated fat. Next time we make the green bean casserole, we’ll stray and just caramelize our own onions. We’re guessing that we’ll like the casserole just as much.

Here’s what we did:

Green Bean Casserole
based on Alanna Kellogg’s (A Veggie Venture) World’s Best Green Bean Casserole

green beans

  • green beans, washed and trimmed

mushroom sauce

  • good shot mushrooms, sliced
  • olive oil
  • unsalted butter, optional
  • 1 c milk (⅓ c milk powder and 1 c water)
  • chicken stock powder
  • 2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
  • seasalt and pepper, to taste
  • 10% cream, optional

topping

  • good shot of dried bread crumbs
  • olive oil and unsalted butter
  • French’s™ French-fried onions (79gm (2.8oz) can), all but a few handfuls …someone ate them… :-)

Preparation

  1. green beans Wash and trim the green beans. Parboil them until just al dente. Drain and immediately plunge them into ice cold water so they retain their emerald green colour.
  2. Drain well. (Alanna suggests putting a layer of paper towels onto a cookie sheet and placing the “beans in single layer to dry, top[ped] with a double layer of [paper] towels“. She goes on to say “Don’t skip the drying process“.)
  3. mushroom sauce Slice the mushrooms. (We used white button mushrooms but I’m sure you can use any mushrooms.) Heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan.
  4. Add mushrooms to the olive oil and sauté at medium high heat until they are softened and beginning to colour.
  5. Add a little butter if you want.
  6. Stir flour into the mushrooms.
  7. Stir in milk and chicken stock powder (or a milk and chicken stock combination). Add pepper. Taste and add salt if required. If it seems too thick, add some cream. Set the mushroom sauce aside until it is time to assemble the casserole.
  8. topping Heat olive oil and a little butter (if you want) in a clean frying pan (cast iron is good). Add bread crumbs and, stirring from time to time, cook til golden.
  9. Remove from heat and stir in the canned onions. Set aside until it is time to assemble the casserole.
  10. assembly Put beans into a buttered casserole dish.
  11. Slather the mushroom mixture on top of the green beans.
  12. Put the crumbs over top and bake at about 350F until the top is golden brown.

Serve immediately. Leftovers (if there are any) can be gently reheated in a slow oven and the casserole is just as good.

edit November 2008: We have made this casserole on a number of occasions. (It really is the best.) But since the first time, we have NOT used canned onions. Instead, T has sauteed onions in oil until they are beginning to colour and then added flour to crisp them up. They are easily as good tasting (if not better) than canned onions and WAY better for us. Because who knows how many nightmares of chemicals and preservatives are in canned onions?

* Alanna has put together the most wonderful resource of vegetable recipes. There are zillions, alphabetized by vegetable. Take a look!

A note about the amount of topping: Alanna suggested to use only half the amount of topping called for. I thought that sounded like a fine idea. But I don’t wear the pants in our kitchen (carry the serving spoon?) and T decreed that more is better. And I have to agree that lots of crumb topping is delicious. But I do suspect that if I ruled the world, we would be putting on half the amount and would still like it just as much.

green bean casserole On this particular day, we served this fabulous green bean casserole with oven roasted sweet potatoes, rice and Faux Swiss Steak. We know we’ll be having this casserole many more times with many different dishes. (Wouldn’t it be wonderful with a roast ham?!)

Thank you Alanna!!

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB#118#119 )
Button Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus)

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchen While mushrooms aren’t exactly an herb, vegetables or herbs are allowed in the wonderful weekly event, WHB.

dill Mushrooms! They’re the best, aren’t they? A natural source of glutamate (the same flavour boosting glutamate that is in MSG – yes that dreaded substance that people think gives them headaches. It has been argued that it’s extra salt and sodium in the MSG rather than the glutamate that cause people to get headaches.)

White mushrooms, brown mushrooms, dried mushrooms, exotic mushrooms, even canned mushrooms work wonders on a dish, elevating it to the next level.

White button mushrooms are the mushrooms that are most available to us. Of course, our vegetable stores have a huge array of other mushrooms as well. But the white ones are the least expensive and they do the job.

Please read more about mushrooms:

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WHB is on the road again and this week’s host is Ulrike (Küchenlatein). The deadline for entering WHB#119 is Sunday 10 February 2008 at 15:00, Utah time (GMT-7). For complete details on how to participate in Weekend Herb Blogging, please see the following:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
edit 11 February 2008: Ulrike has posted the roundup. Take a look at all the delicious entries!

 

This entry was posted in crossblogging, food & drink, posts with recipes, side, vegetables, WHB on by .

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  • MrsBrown

    I’ve picked up the canned onions from the store several times; I’ve never bought them because A. they’re not cheap and B. they have what MrBrown refers to as the Root of All Evil–sugar (it might be dextrose but sugar by any other name is still as evil–with apologies to William Shakespeare).

    I LOVE green bean casserole. I think we’ll have it this weekend but I”ll caramelize the onions instead of buying the crispy canned (evil) ones. I like the amount you suggested for the topping crumbs: “good shot of dried bread crumbs” but I wonder if MY “good shot of dried bread crumbs” is the same as T’s “good shot of dried bread crumbs”. I think we’ll have it with roasted chicken and garlic mashed yams. MMMM now I’m REALLY hungry and it’s only 3:40.

  • Another satisfied customer for the famous green bean casserole! I must make that sometime. My mother would occasionally buy those canned fried onions, but when she did we kids would get them out of the pantry and eat them, so she quit buying them. (We were also fond of those crispy chow mein noodles. This is what happens when you never buy potato chips.)

    I agree, mushrooms are just the greatest. They make everything taste good.

  • You definitely get the prize for the most enthusiastic maker of green bean casserole, Elizabeth!

    I’ve made this often enough now that I’ve come to understand some of its idiosyncracies. For example, the paper towels draw water from the cooked beans so the sauce doesn’t get water down and separate. It’s especially important if you’re forced to use frozen green beans, which suck up so much of the cooking water. And next time, do try breaking apart the mushrooms (vs slicing them); irregular and larger pieces of mushroom actually makes them SEEM more real, especially compared to the cut mushrooms in canned soup.

    Next time, I am going to experiment with different options for the topping because you’re right, they ARE expensive and they ARE completely filled with fat and worse, trans fats.

    So glad you loved it. Me too, yes, it’s great with (smoked) ham!

  • ejm

    We too only got to have potato chips on special occasions (parties, other people’s houses…) But my mother NEVER bought canned onions, Kalyn. I’m not sure that she even knew they existed. And I don’t think I saw the crispy chow mein noodles til I was in university. (Loved them too.)

    Alanna, I did stress that you had been very specific about drying the beans. But T said he had taken it into account – he made the mushroom sauce extra thick. Also, we didn’t mix the sauce into the beans but layered it on top before baking. I wonder if that might have made a difference. Remarkably, T insisted on adding cream to the leftovers the next night. He said that the first round wasn’t saucy enough. But next time, we will do as you say, oh wise one, and try breaking rather than slicing the mushrooms. (Personally, I’ve never seen sliced mushrooms in canned mushroom soup. They were always little chunks – almost cubes. What brand of mushroom soup has sliced mushrooms?)

    MrsBrown, that’s the advantage of the term “good shot”. Even if it isn’t necessarily T’s idea of good shot, it will undoubtedly be just fine with your casserole. But if you have any doubt, you could follow Alanna’s recipe. She does use more specific measurements.

  • Thanks for your entry and sharing this recipe with us. I am already hosting the 119th edition :-) of WHB.

    Ooops!! Of course! Edition number corrected, Ulrike. Thank you for popping in! -ejm

  • I’ve never made green bean casserole and so much as I can remember it was never something that was featured on the menu at my house so I’ve never got that dreamy look in my eyes over a casserole. Last month at work though, there was a potluck and someone brought in a green bean casserole. I thought I’d give it a try but I went on my break to have some and it was the first dish that had been scraped clean. Maybe I should give it a shot afterall?

    Definitely, Brilynn, you must. It’s the best. We’ll be having it again very soon (without the canned onions – as delicious as they are). -ejm

  • The mushrooms are lovely, and yes they are really great to cook with.

    Thank you. They are pretty sliced like that, aren’t they? -ejm