November 8, 2013

Traditional, Homemade Thanksgiving Dinner - Installment #1 - Green Beans

Being the first installment, I'm going to take a minute to explain a few things.  1) I really, really dislike that Thanksgiving is overlooked and people move right on to Christmas Nov. 1st.  I love me some Christmas, but it can wait it's turn and give Turkey Day its due!  2)  I'm a huge traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner.  I require the same homemade dishes I've eaten since I could mouth some mashed potatoes. 3) I believe, if you are going to only make one meal entirely for scratch during the whole year, make it Thanksgiving dinner!

Over the next week or so I'm going to share our Thanksgiving dinner dishes.  Plus some tips for how to take some of the stress out of cooking all that food.  On to the food.

Installment #1 is green bean casserole.  I love thick, creamy green bean casserole.  But I hate cream-of-crap soup and French's fried onions.  So, over the years I've created a completely homemade recipe that tastes just like the version I grew up with but way better for you.

Green Bean Casserole
Makes 8 dish-side-sized servings

1 1/2 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
2 T butter
1 T olive oil or non-GMO canola oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 c flour
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
Handful french fried onions

Cut green beans into bite-sized pieces.  Bring a big pot of water to boil.  Add the green beans and cook 3 minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold water.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt butter in a large, thick bottom sauce pan over medium heat.  Add oil. Add diced onions and saute until opaque.  Whisk in flour until damp.  Slowly add milk while whisking.  Cook, stirring until thickened - about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in buttermilk, salt and pepper.  Fold in the green beans.

Scoop into a greased casserole dish.  Sprinkle with the french fried onions.  Cover and bake for 25 minutes.

Tips:  Make the french fried onions up to 2 days ahead of time.  Store in the fridge in a plastic bag with a paper towel folded up inside with the onions.  The onions won't be crunchy after being in the fridge, but you are going to bake them anyway and they will get soft, so it won't matter.  (Those store-bought brands stay crunchy due to preservatives and partially hydrogenated soybean/palm oil.  So bad for you!)

Yes, you can use canned green beans instead of fresh.  Use 3 store-bought cans.  I can, in a pressure canned, beans from my garden - a mix of green and wax beans.  I use 4 pints of my beans.  Fresh do taste a bit better, but fresh beans are not in season in November so I'm OK sacrificing a little flavor/crispness for local, organic beans.  It's up to you.

This dish gets better when it sits and the flavors blend.  You can make the beans early on Thanksgiving day and just warm back up in the microwave right before dinner.

11/16/16 Update - I highly recommend making a double batch of the french fried onions. My daughter and I eat the first batch as soon as they are cool, while they are still crunch.  They are way better than onion rings from the fast food restaurant.

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