How to Make The Best Green Bean Casserole From Scratch

Green bean casserole is a traditional Thanksgiving side dish that people either love or hate. This year why not skip the canned ingredients and make a green bean casserole from scratch? It’s only a little more trouble than the usual kind, and a thousand times better.

A basic green bean casserole has three parts:

Beans

It can be tricky to find fresh green beans in the produce section, but they’re there if you hunt for them. These crunchy legumes pack a nutritional wallop when fresh or lightly blanched. Look for them in the refrigerated “unusual produce” case, or pre-bagged.

If you have whole beans with the stems still on, chop these off. Then cut your beans into chunks about 2-3 inches long.

Give the beans a light blanch by simmering them for 2-3 minutes in heavily salted water, until they have softened slightly. Drain the beans, and stop them from cooking further by running cool water over them for a few minutes.

Onions

Personally, I really like the crunchy French onions from a can. I buy extra cans this time of year when they go on sale for the holidays. But “the real thing” is a lot better – and better for you!

You can use either white or yellow onions. Slice them as thinly as possible, then give them a good browning. Typically I brown the onions in a big pan on the stove top.

This Alton Brown recipe has you batter them in panko bread crumbs, then cook in the oven at high temperatures.  When I did this, the breading fell off all the onions, but they were still delicious.

Sauce

A classic green bean casserole calls for a can of cream of mushroom soup.  It’s easier, healthier, and tastier to just make your own.

First, slice the mushrooms and saute them in a pan. Once the mushrooms have begun to brown, add garlic for the last few minutes.  Add any spices you want to use to this pan.  Cook everything until it’s nicely browned, then deglaze the pan by adding about a cup of chicken broth and stirring everything into a delicious sauce. 

Next, make a basic roux.  A roux is the foundation of so many sauces, including the gravy which many Americans are familiar with.  To make a roux, melt butter in a pan and then whisk in flour and cook it for a few minutes.  You can tell when it’s cooked long enough, because the smell will change from “papier mache” to “delicious.”  Use equal parts butter and flour – 4 tablespoons of each is a good starting point for a casserole.

Add the mushroom mix to the roux, and add about a cup of cream (either heavy cream or half and half, your choice).  Let everything simmer for 5-6 minutes, until it starts to thicken up a bit.  Then assemble your ingredients in a casserole dish, and bake it at 350 for 15-20 minutes until it starts to bubble.

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