I attended my first ever Thanksgiving Dinner at my American friend, E’s house last year, and among the delicious array of traditional foods she served, was a green bean casserole. The fresh, still crunchy green beans and creamy mushroom sauce were a great combination. I was surprised to find out later that this Thanksgiving stalwart was invented by a staff at Campbell’s Soup Company in 1955 to market condensed mushroom soup, which apparently was a very common pantry item. (it reminds me, I haven't had Campbell's mushroom soup in a very, very long time). The original recipe calls for canned or frozen green beans, canned fried onions (I can’t even imagine how this would taste) and the aforementioned condensed mushroom soup.
Luckily, E was happy to share her recipe. I had wanted to use beans from my veggie garden, but Sam got to them first; I only manage to rescue 5 lonely beans from my 10 plants. I have to figure out how to fence my tiny veggie patch in a way that will keep Sam out but still allow me to maneuver around it or just grow vegetables he doesn't like the taste of.
This is made with chicken broth, but to turn it into a vegetarian meal, replace with vegetable stock. The dish also reheats well in the microwave. The recipe below is for 10 portions, halve for smaller group.
Ingredients (serves 10):
600 - 700g white button mushrooms, rinsed and dried, cut into 1-cm pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
¼ cup flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup cream
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
750 g green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 5cm segments
1½ cups fried shallots or 2 cups French's Fried Onions (available at Martha's Backyard in Mt Wellington)
Combine chicken stock, cream, soy sauce and lemon juice and set aside until required. Put a large pot of water to boil with a tablespoon of salt. Turn oven to 175°C.
Add the stock mixture and simmer for 5 minutes, until thickened. Season to taste.
Blanch the green beans in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool running water.
Add the beans to the mushroom mixture with 1 cup of fried shallots, and combine well. Transfer to a casserole dish, and bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle on the remainder of the fried shallots and serve hot.