Holiday Stories: The Green Bean Casserole
It is that time of the year again when I start to go to Christmas parties with my wife. The parties are always fun and the people are wonderful, but there are some occupational hazards that spring up this time of year that are unique to being a chef.
First, I get put to work, usually checking to see if the meat is done or to carve something. Second, someone corners me with a ten-minute story about how they have the best green bean casserole recipe around – all the while my wine glass is getting dangerously low.
I actually prefer the first scenario! When the second scenario happens, sometime during the history of the casserole recipe, someone else usually overhears the conversation and chimes in about how their grandma makes the best green bean casserole ever. Ordinarily, I tune out any recipe conversation once the ingredient of cream of mushroom soup is called for.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I dislike green bean casserole or cream of mushroom soup. I thoroughly enjoyed my grandmother’s casserole at Thanksgiving (as well as her broccoli & rice casserole which contains cream of mushroom soup and Cheese Whiz!). It is just that I am sometimes caught off guard by how passionate people can be about green bean casserole.
So, in honor of the beloved green bean casserole, the Kendall-Jackson Culinary team decided to come up with the “Green Bean Supreme Casserole”. Now, I will always be prepared to put the casserole smack-down at any holiday party.
And because it is always important to start with the best ingredients available, we sent out Chef Andrei for wild chanterelle mushrooms on the Sonoma Coast. I’m not exactly sure where he went, though; he won’t even disclose the location to me! (I am actually glad I did not tag along on this trip because his fellow forager returned with more than just fungi…he actually got poison oak as well).
We hope this recipe becomes one of your new favorites. Enjoy!
Green Bean Supreme Casserole
This is Kendall-Jackson Culinary team’s homemade version of the classic holiday dish created in 1955 by Dorcas Reilly in the Campbell’s Soup test kitchen. The original recipe has been at every family holiday dinner that I can remember.
You will notice that we stuck with the canned french fried onions, because they are just plain good. The addition of chanterelle mushrooms, sherry vinegar and truffle oil take it to the next level. Whether you try this version or the much simpler traditional one, a nice rich Chardonnay such as Kendall-Jackson Camelot Highlands or a Pinot Noir with a little earthiness like the Vintner’s Reserve, will complement the casserole bringing this humble dish into the spotlight.
- 1½ lbs. green beans, cleaned
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- ½ cup onion, small dice
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1½ lbs. chanterelle mushrooms
- 1 pint half & half
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
- ½ tsp. sherry vinegar
- ½ tsp. white truffle oil
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (6 oz.) can french fried onions
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- In a large pot over high heat, bring 1 gallon of water to a boil and add enough salt for it to taste salty like the ocean. While the water is coming to a boil, prepare an ice water bath, set aside. Line a sheet pan with paper towels, set aside. Add the beans to the boiling water and cook for approximately 2 minutes or until the beans turn bright green, and then remove and transfer immediately to the ice water bath to “shock” (quickly cool) the beans.You may need to do this in batches. Once the beans are cool, remove from water and place on the sheet pan. When the beans are compledly dry, reserve in a large mixing bowl.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, add the butter. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for approximately 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add the half & half, chicken stock and thyme and simmer for 1 hour or until reduced by half.
- Carefully pour the mixture into a blender and process until smooth. Season with sherry vinegar, truffle oil, salt and pepper. Toss the mushroom puree with the green beans and transfer to an over-proof casserole dish to bake for approximately 20 minutes to heat through. Remove from oven and top with the crispy onions. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until onions are golden. Allow to cool slightly and serve.