Have you ever read the green bean casserole recipe on the back of a can of cream of mushroom soup? Many people do read that recipe during the holiday season. Even when using canned and frozen ingredients, a green bean casserole recipe is a holiday favorite for many families.
I have made green bean casserole with fresh ingredients every time that I have cooked it. Fresh is best! I know that people have fond memories of their own mother's home cooking, but some of us really do not want to remember our mother's nightmarish home cooking. When I was a kid, I thought that all mushrooms came from a can. In fact, I thought all vegetables came from a can. Every time we had a sauce or soup, it was made with canned soup. Some mom's have a banner slogan of "Shut up and eat whats on your plate!" As you can see, my mother is not who taught me how to cook!
When I left home, I never wanted to see a canned food product ever again. After graduating from the lower ranks of short order cooking, it was a rare thing to see canned food in fine dining restaurant kitchens. In fact, the can opener in a fine dining restaurant usually was a relic that collected dust in a dark corner.
At an award winning fine dining restaurant in Florida, we prepared a special Thanksgiving menu that included many traditional American favorite food items. Green bean casserole made from scratch was on the menu. Customers ordered second helpings for the table, because they liked the green bean casserole so much! We made batch after batch of green bean casserole, till we ran out of fresh green beans late in the day. Waitresses came back to the kitchen with compliments from customers. The compliment that we heard all day long was "My customer said that he hated green bean casserole, because at home it was always made with canned food and canned crispy fried onions, but he really liked the green bean casserole here, because it tasted so fresh!"
At that moment, I thought of many home style canned food recipes that people dreaded eating, that could be better when made with fresh ingredients. During my career after that day, I occasionally made and sold some of the food items that are usually only thought of as being home style canned food creations as specials du jour, but I made them with fresh ingredients. At about that same time, the gourmet American diner food trend started and then I really found a nice playing field for creativity that I enjoyed.
Gourmet American diner food was made with fresh ingredients, not canned or frozen ingredients and customers appreciated this cuisine trend. A few years after the gourmet diner food trend came about, the rebirth of gourmet French comfort food started. The Thanksgiving holiday comfort food that we served at the 3 star Michelin French restaurant that I cooked in was very gourmet and advanced. Yes, we made green bean casserole at the French restaurant! Hedge hog mushrooms and lobster mushrooms flavored a haricot vert creme casserole with a crispy sweet vidalia onion topping. That was a very nice gourmet green bean casserole!
Today's recipe features a nice mixture of gourmet mushrooms with fresh green beans that were French cut by hand. Obviously canned crispy fried onions are not part of this recipe. Why should they be? Crispy onions are very easy to make!
Crispy Onions Recipe:
This recipe makes a few portions of crispy onions! The extra onion straws can be used for other recipes or simply snacked on.
Onion straws, haystack onions and crispy onions are all the same thing. Crispy onions are very easy to make, but it is easy to overcook and burn crispy onions. Only small amounts of crispy onions should be fried at a time to prevent dangerous hot frying oil foaming.
Crispy onions will kill frying oil, because moisture and salt are the two worst enemies of fryer oil. The flour from the crispy onions will ruin the oil too. It is best to use frying oil that is on its last leg, because the oil will be pretty well spent after making crispy onions. In restaurants, I just make crispy onions in a pot with a little bit of oil, instead of using a deep fryer, because it is better to discard a small amount of spent oil rather than 5 gallons of spent oil!
Heat 5 inches of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360 degrees.
Very thin slice 1 onion into paper thin rings. (The onion rings must be sliced paper thin!)
Place the thin onion slices in a mixing bowl.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
Let the onions sweat from the salt for about 15 minutes.
Add enough flour to coat the sweated onions.
Toss the thin onion rings and flour together, so the onions are evenly coated.
Place the coated onions in a medium mesh strainer and gently shake the strainer to remove most the excess flour.
Fry small batches of the coated onions at a time to prevent excessive oil foaming.
Poke the crispy onions with a fryer net, as they fry, to prevent the crispy onions from sticking together.
When the onions become a light golden brown color, remove them from the oil and place them on a wire screen roasting rack to drain off any excess oil.
Keep the crispy onions warm on a stove top.
The frying oil can be saved if the heat is turned off immediately after the frying is done. The oil must be filtered. The only problem is that anything that you fry with that oil will taste like onions!
Green Bean and Wild Mushroom Casserole Recipe:
This recipe makes one large portion!
Dried wild mushrooms often are the only wild mushrooms that are available in the winter. If dried mushrooms are used, soak them in 2 cups of water overnight in a refrigerator and save the mushroom soaking water.
Chop 1/2 cup a mixture of chanterelle, porcini, portabella and cepe mushrooms.
Place the chopped mushrooms in a sauce pot.
Add 2 cups of water. (If you use dried wild mushrooms, then add the soaking liquid, instead of water.)
Place the sauce pot over medium high heat.
Bring the broth to a boil.
Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Simmer and reduce the broth by half.
Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
Add 2 pats of unsalted butter.
Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion.
Saute till the onions turn clear in color.
Add the sauteed onions to the mushrooms and broth.
Make a white roux with 2 ounces of unsalted butter and and equal amount flour in a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat, while constantly stirring.
Add just enough roux to the broth, while stirring with a whisk, to thicken the broth to a medium thin sauce consistency. (Save any excess roux for another recipe.)
Add 1/2 cup of cream while stirring.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 2 pinches of thyme.
Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it returns to a medium thin sauce consistency.
French cut 3 handfuls of fresh trimmed green beans. (Frenched green beans = Cutting the green beans lengthwise into thin strips.)
Place the Frenched green beans in a casserole dish.
Pour a generous amount of the wild mushroom creme sauce over the green beans.
Bake in a 350 degree oven till the sauce and beans becomes hot and till the sauce is bubbling.
Place the crispy fried onions on top of the casserole.
Return the casserole to the oven to heat the crispy onion topping. (This only takes 1 minute! Be careful not to burn the crispy onions!)
Place the green bean and wild mushroom casserole on a serving plate.
No garnish is necessary.
The deep aroma of the wild mushroom with green beans in a creme mushroom veloute sauce is mouth watering! The crispy fried onion topping adds a wonderful texture and flavor.
This is a traditional holiday vegetable side dish that made the right way. Old fashioned home cooking was always done like this, before television and canned food ruined home cooking! Ha Ha Ha! Absolutely yummy! ... Shawna