Green Bean Casserole

Over the Thanksgiving break, a few friends from high school organized a little reunion of sorts. It was a ten year reunion, which grosses me out because it makes me feel ancient, but age is just a number and you're as young as you feel, or something. It was hosted at a bar where we mingled with drinks and reminisced about our younger years. It was one of the weirdest experiences of my life because it was such a blast from the past but everything still kind of felt like high school and we all looked older but we all still looked the same and even though I was shy back then (and still am to a degree) people still remembered me and friends I hadn't seen in years complimented my blogging, which was really surprising. Like I said, it was weird. I think that if we'd had a five year reunion, maybe the ten year wouldn't have felt as odd. Doesn't matter, because despite all the weirdness, it was really nice. Most everyone has settled nicely into meaningful careers and the group I was with seemed quite content, which was lovely to witness.

I just wanted to share that little anecdote. I should consider myself lucky because when I hear about bullying, I really cannot relate because in our year, we had our cliques but everyone got on well. Even now, the jocks are still jocky and the pretty girls are still gorgeous and the nerds (the group I fall into) are still smart. And we all still get along.

That weekend really made me miss my youth. Anyway, let's get on with today's recipe, shall we? Even though green bean casserole wasn't something I grew up on (my parents never made this dish), I still remember the Campbell's commercials for it right around the holiday season. And the first time I ate this was when I went to dinner at a friend's house. I always loved going to my non-Korean friends' houses for meals because it meant I got to try new and cool dishes. On this particular evening, S's mom made meatloaf and green bean casserole, even though it was spring. She used all of the cans advertised in that infamous commercial and it was delicious.

I thought I might try my hand at making green bean casserole too, except I changed it up a bit: no cans. This dish was a hit at last year's Thanksgiving so I made it again for this year's Thanksgiving and it's so delicious that I'm pretty sure it's going to make an appearance at every Thanksgiving that we host henceforth. It's 100% homemade. Okay, maybe not, because I didn't grow the green beans or wheat and I didn't mill the flour from the wheat I grew and I didn't go and rake salt from the ocean. But, I didn't use a can of green beans, a can of mushroom soup, and a can of french fried onions. It's (mostly) homemade.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
1 lb. haricots verts
2 tablespoons butter
4 to 6 baby bella mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
¼ cup heavy cream
1 small onion or 1 leek, thinly sliced into rings
¼ cup potato starch
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 egg white
+ oil for frying
Start by slicing the mushrooms thinly and mincing the garlic.
Grab a skillet and melt some butter over a medium heat. Toss in the mushrooms and garlic and cook until golden brown.
Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms and stir them in and cook for two minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. Drizzle in some stock and stir it in and then drizzle in some cream and stir it in.
Sprinkle in the seasonings (salt, pepper, and nutmeg) and bring the sauce to a boil until it thickens.
That's the mushroom sauce, done. Next, prep the green beans. Boil some water and toss in the green beans. Cook just until the green beans are bright (two minutes) and then drain and shock in ice water.
That's the green beans, done. Quick. Next, work on the french fried onions. Onions are great but I actually prefer leeks, as they are crunchier when fried. Slice thinly and rinse to get rid of any sand and drain.
Grab a bowl and froth up some egg whites and in a second bowl, mix together equal parts potato starch, panko breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper.
Dredge the leeks in the egg whites and then toss them in the starch & breadcrumb mixture.
Heat up a little oil and fry the leeks until they're golden brown and crisp.
Drain the leeks on a paper towel.
All three of the components above can be prepared a day in advance. When you're ready to serve, mix the green beans into the mushroom sauce and then top with the fried leeks. Pop in a 400F oven for 10  to 15 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the casserole is warmed through.
The green beans are just so friggin' good. They're bright and crisp but smothered in a creamy delicious sauce and topped with crunchy onion bits. I mean, they're awesome and they're kind of healthy, right? Just go for it, you'll like it. And if you don't, you're weird.
Here's the recipe page: