Baked Summer Ratatouille
One of the first local recipes we made for the Oregon Food Bank's Eat Local Challenge!
About a week ago I posted on Facebook about my favorite Thanksgiving food of all time. Not turkey. Not cranberry sauce. Not even sweet potatoes or even pumpkin pie (it doesn’t qualify because I would *never* confine pumpkin pie to just Thanksgiving). Green bean casserole is it. Salty, creamy, mushroomy green bean casserole.
In college when my brothers and I would visit home, my mom always made sure that we returned to the dorm with a big bag of groceries, leftovers and snacks. The leftovers were just the best – I remember bringing home so many Ziploc containers full of her green bean casserole to fill my tiny dorm fridge. The casserole is just as good – if not better – leftover. And it’s hard to overstate just how good a home-cooked meal is when your diet mostly consists of dorm food.
I’m happy to report that my love for this old-school comfort food was not limited to being a dorm dweller – in fact, I think it’s even increased since I learned to make it from scratch. Did you know that the dish was actually invented for Campbell’s Soup in the 1950s? Someone had to reverse engineer this. And of course it was Alton Brown.
Here’s what you need:
1 1/2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup AP flour
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For beans and sauce:
1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon FRESHLY ground nutmeg (accept no substitutes)
2 tablespoons AP flour
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup half-and-half
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Toss the onion slices, flour, panko and kosher salt together in a bowl. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
Next, boil about a gallon of water in a stock pot and prepare a large bowl of ice water to have nearby. Blanch the green beans in the boiling water for five minutes, then remove straight to the ice bath. I suggest using a spider or slotted spoon for this.
In a large, oven safe skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, then add the mushrooms and a very heavy pinch of Kosher salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to sweat a little. Add the garlic and nutmeg, and cook for another minute or so.
Next, sprinkle in the AP flour and toss to coat the mushroom mixture. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add in the broth and bring to a simmer for a full minute. Next, add the half and half, and bring to a simmer again. This time, simmer for about ten minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
Carefully stir in the green beans and about 1/4 of the onions until they are totally incorporated into the mushroom mixture. Top with the remaining baked onions. If you are going to be transporting the casserole to someone else’s house, stop here and continue with the final step when you are actually ready to eat.
Bake the casserole for another 15 minutes before serving – longer if you allow it to cool in between.
Very, very lightly adapted from Alton Brown.
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