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Green Bean Casserole

from Cook’s Illustrated Nov/Dec 2006, #83, pg. 9

Again… much too busy eating to take pictures. I’m sure you understand. :) I hope to update this post with pictures after Thanksgiving this year.

Make ahead tips included. Look for instructions in {brackets}.

Ingredients:

Topping:
4 slices white sandwich bread (torn into quarters)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups canned French fried onions

Beans/Sauce:
Table salt
2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed and halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound white button mushrooms, stems trimmed, wiped clean and broken into ½ inch pieces
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
Ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 can sliced water chestnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

You will also need:

Food processor
Large bowl filled with ice water
Dutch oven
Paper towel lined baking sheet
3 quart / 13x9 inch baking dish

Method:

For the topping: In food processor, pulse bread, butter, salt and pepper until it resembles coarse crumbs (ten 1-second pulses). Toss with French fried onions and set aside. {Store bread-crumb mixture in an air-tight container in the fridge and mix with onions just before cooking.}

For the beans/sauce: Preheat oven to 425° F. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. (While it is coming to a boil, you can be prepping your green beans, mushrooms and other ingredients.) Prepare your large bowl of ice water. Add 2 tablespoons salt and 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 the paper towel lined baking sheet to drain.

Add butter to now empty Dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add mushrooms, garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates (about 6 minutes). Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to 3 ½ cups, about 12 minutes. Off heat, season with salt and pepper to taste and add chopped water chestnuts if desired (they lend a nice extra crunch that my husband's family likes).

{Allow sauce to cool. Mix the beans and cooled sauce in a covered baking dish and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking.)

Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in even layer in baking dish. Sprinkle with topping and bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling around edges, about 15 minutes. {Heat in 425° F oven for 10 minutes, then add topping and bake as directed for about 15 minutes.} Serve immediately.

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