After making a few versions of gourmet green bean casserole, I have finally stumbled upon THE gourmet green bean casserole recipe of my dreams. Mostly from scratch, but combined with a couple of ingredients that are just traditional, this one is a winner.
I know this is usually a Thanksgiving treat, which is why I’m posting this just a few days before the holiday, but I really love green bean casserole any time of year! Especially when you add shallots, garlic, bacon, and an incredible cream sauce.
Oh yes. OH yes. I love this stuff.
This gourmet green bean casserole starts with fresh green beans. Growing up, I never enjoyed vegetables… (shocking, I know). The briny flavor of canned vegetables especially turned me off. However, now that I’ve broadened my flavor horizons, I’ve discovered that there are many fresh vegetables that are actually quite appealing.
To be more specific – the trick to enjoying fresh green beans (to me, at least), is boiling them and then blanching them in ice water. This allows the bright green colors to shine, but also partially cooks the green beans. The crunch factor in fresh green beans is a big part of the enjoyment factor, and that’s exactly what we want to have in this dish.
The BEAUTIFUL part of my favorite green bean casserole is starting with bacon! Not a ton of bacon, though – I used just two thick cut strips of local bacon. The thicker the better, in my opinion, but anything will do! Chop the bacon into pieces that are about 1/2″ in size, and then cook them until they are dark and crispy. They won’t produce a ton of grease, but just enough for the rich bacon flavor to really play into this green bean casserole.
Cooking onion, shallot, and garlic in bacon grease is gong to make you drool. The aroma is AMAZING, and transforming that into a cream sauce is just one of my favorite things to do. Ever.
I added just a touch of cream of mushroom soup to this recipe. I am not a fan of mushrooms (I’m sorry! :(), but the flavor is such an important part of this recipe. Just a couple of tablespoons did it for me. Feel free to add more if you really like it! Or you could always start with fresh mushrooms and sauté them with the onion, shallot, and garlic!
The other traditional part in this recipe is the french fried onions. If you have the time to make your own, you should absolutely go for it. However, I love the store-bought ones, and I only eat them once a year – so why not keep the tradition alive? They’re a necessity, in my opinion. 🙂
Once you’ve topped everything with french fried onions and cheese, throw the entire skillet into the oven to broil for just few minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and browning. Then, serve directly from the cast iron skillet. Luckily, the cast iron will keep this dish pretty warm – at least a little longer than if you were to just use a normal serving dish. And personally, I think the cast iron skillet presentation is awesome.
- 3 cups fresh green beans, chopped into 1/2" pieces
- 1/2 cup thick cut bacon, chopped
- 1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. shallot, minced
- 1 Tbsp. white wine
- 2 Tbsp. cream of mushroom soup
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup french fried onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
- Boil green beans until very bright green, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat, strain, and put them directly into a bowl of iced water to blanch them and stop the cooking process. Drain the water and ice, and set the beans aside until you're ready to add them to your sauce. They will be gorgeously green and still crunchy once this happens.
- In a cast iron skillet, over medium heat, cook the chopped bacon until it is dark in color and crispy. Turn the heat to low, then add the onion. Stir the onion in with the bacon fat and cook until it becomes soft, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add shallot and garlic, and cook until fragrant and softening, about 1-2 minutes. Also stir it all into the bacon fat and onion.
- Add white wine, and scrape the bottom of the skillet to incorporate any browned bits into the mix. Turn the heat back to medium, and allow the wine to cook for a couple of minutes until it is almost completely reduced.
- Add the cream of mushroom soup. Stir it in with everything else. Add the half and half, and cook until it begins to thicken. Also add the cracked black pepper and crushed red pepper at this time.
- Turn the heat back down to low, and allow the sauce to cook until it is thick and creamy. Continuously stir it to help keep the smooth consistency. Once it has reached a thickness you like, squeeze the lemon juice into it and stir in completely.
- Spoon all of the green beans directly into the cast iron skillet, and coat all of them with the cream sauce. Spread them out across the pan, so they make an even layer, and then sprinkle the chopped french fried onions evenly over the top. Also sprinkle on the parmesan cheese, then mozzarella.
- Place the cast iron skillet directly into the oven, and broil until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.
- Carefully remove the cast iron skillet from the oven, and serve hot!