I’ve been thinking more about Thanksgiving. And, I have a confession to make. I absolutely love green bean casserole. And, by this I mean that I love the kind made with canned beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French fried onions. I love it.
However, somewhere along the line I started thinking that, practically speaking, any dish could be improved by removing the canned “cream of” soup and canned vegetables and substituting fresh produce and a cream sauce in its place. There are exceptions to this rule. There are moods and cravings that dictate that some things should not be tampered with at certain times. But, this is a dish that was borne of my desire to improve upon the classic (just-fine-the-way-it-is) green bean casserole. That is not to say that this is healthful. After all, there are two cups of sour cream and two cups of cheese in this dish. It is slightly further from the factory and slightly more elemental though. Furthermore, it has Ritz Crackers crushed on top which should make you happy. Why? It just should. It is down home good and could make you want to call your grandma. I used Ritz instead of the french fried onions thinking I could then cajole my son into eating them, because he adores Ritz crackers. No such luck. But, I love the cracker topping.
Now, the first time I made this recipe in this manner and declared “this is good,” I thought it was novel. But, it is not. In fact, a quick perusal of my family recipes showed me that my beloved Aunt Betty has been making something very similar at least since my mother was in her early 20’s. I have the neatly typed index card bearing Betty’s name and a cousin of this very recipe sitting in my mom’s wooden recipe box (which I now keep). This was one of the boxes made by my Grandma Katie and Papaw Virgil for each of their seven kids, with decoupage images of cheese balls of varying colors on the lid. It sits right next to my desk…seeping love and inspiration at all times. So, know that you may also make this with Swiss cheese, as Betty did, and you may also top it with crushed corn flakes. Betty rarely has a bad idea. The fact that this is in the neighborhood of one of her recipes probably means you should try it.
|Farmstand Green Bean Casserole|| |
- 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and rinsed (or haricot verts)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups sour cream
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- ½ cup Ritz crackers, crushed (or French fried onions or crushed corn flakes)
- 1 tablespoon (additional) unsalted butter, to be melted
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In two batches, parboil the beans for approximately three to four minutes, or until crisp tender. Remove the beans to a colander with tongs and rinse the beans with cold water to stop the cooking. Allow the beans to drain and dry.
- Empty the water from the saucepan, dry it, and return it to the stove top at medium heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of butter and allow it to melt. Then, add the flour and stir it into the melted butter. Allow the butter and flour to cook for one minute and then add the salt, sugar and onions. Stir thoroughly. Turn off the heat under the pot and add the sour cream. Stir the sour cream into the other ingredients until completely incorporated. Add the thoroughly drained beans to the sour cream mixture and gently toss the beans and the sour cream until the beans are uniformly coated.
- Transfer the beans to a 9” by 13” baking dish. Top the beans with the cheddar cheese. In a small bowl, combine the 1 tablespoon of melted butter with the crushed crackers. Evenly spread the cracker crumbs over the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is bubbly.
Preparing ahead: This recipe can serve eight and is simple to prepare. It can also be made ahead of time, making it a holiday hero. You can steam or parboil the beans the day before and keep them in a re-sealable bag in the refrigerator overnight. Or, you can prepare the entire casserole and keep it in the refrigerator for several hours before baking. Remove the casserole from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before it goes into the oven.
Option: I kept these beans whole, but you may choose to cut them into somewhat smaller pieces.
About sour cream: Sour cream can curdle if abused. This is why I stir it into the flour off of the heat. The flour also helps it to keep from curdling in the hot oven.