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Cheddar Green Bean Casserole

Cheddar Green Bean Casserole


It's November already, which means that it's time to start planning your Thanksgiving dinner!  My little family of three will be visiting Nonnie and Grandpa this year, so I'm likely off the hook for cooking.  I'll just be basking in the Florida sun showing Lily what a palm tree looks like.  We'll spend our days playing backgammon, lounging by the pool, and chasing lizards. Pretty much the perfect holiday.  But that doesn't mean that you don't have to cook for your family (sucker!), so give this green bean casserole a try.

I adapted this recipe from the traditional holiday side dish that we all know and love.  When Dan and I were kids, my mom used to make green bean casserole with canned green beans and cream of mushroom soup on a regular basis, as did most moms in America (Campbell's must have had a rockin' marketing department back in the day!).  This homemade kind really doesn't take too much longer to prep.  Really!  But I don't like mushrooms so I did a switcheroo and got that fungus away from my beans.  The cheddar cheese adds a completely different flavor, and I imagine that this dish would also be delicious made with broccoli (the first love of any good cheddar sauce).

This green bean casserole isn't exactly *ahem* health-conscious, but it would be easy to sub in reduced fat cheese, whole wheat bread for the topping, and milk or light cream instead of heavy.  Don't bother trying to make the fried onions on your own.  When Cook's Illustrated doesn't have a better idea than buying a can of premade fried onions, that pretty much seals the deal that one doesn't exist.

I was assigned green bean casserole as part of a recipe swap, and I'm glad that I finally had the opportunity to try out this new twist! Thanks, Dawn!

Cheddar Green Bean Casserole

Topping: 4 slices sandwich bread, each torn into quarters 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened 1/4 tsp. table salt 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper 3 cups canned fried onions (6 oz, about one can)  If the store sells cheddar fried onions then go for it! 1 cup cheddar cheese

Beans and Sauce: Table salt 2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed, and halved 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed Ground black pepper 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour 1.5 cups low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth 1.5 cups heavy cream 3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded 2 cups canned fried onions

For the topping: Pulse bread, butter, salt & pepper in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to large bowl and toss with onions and cheddar; set aside.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.

If you are using fresh green beans, fill large bowl with ice water. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven. Add 2 Tbsp. of table salt, and the beans. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Drain beans in colander and plunge immediately into ice water to stop cooking. Spread beans on paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain.  If you are using frozen green beans, just let them thaw and then pat them dry with paper towels.

Add butter to now-empty Dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add garlic, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper.  Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium, add cream, cheddar, and fried onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in even layer in 3-quart (or 13x9-inch) baking dish. Sprinkle with topping and bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling around edges, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Cook's Illustrated November and December 2006

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