Friday, November 18, 2011

Green Bean Casserole with Fried Onions

I've never really been too excited about Thanksgiving food. It's all just hot mush, really. So I end up eating mostly appetizers, lefse, Grandma's cranberry sauce, and wine. Which, when you think about it, really isn't a meal to complain about.

But this year I'm having the strange desire to cook a proper Thanksgiving meal. If I did, it wouldn't include turkey, boxed stuffing mix, nor canned green bean casserole with that horrible cream of crap soup.

It would, however, probably include some kind of fish (like this), some kind of potatoes (like these), a fancy dressing (like this, but maybe with wild mushrooms, too), a winter white salad, and this AMAZING made-from-scratch green bean casserole with homemade crispy fried onions.

99% of this casserole is super easy. But I'm not going to sugar-coat this...frying onions is gross, smelly, and dirty. My house is going to reek of fried onions until Christmas. They're so ridiculously delicious though, that it's totally worth it. I wish I would have fried about 3 times as many, because there's no way I'm doing it again this year.

I ate this casserole topped with a poached egg and some of that winter white salad, which is nearly halfway to my dream Thanksgiving menu! It actually did prompt me to give thanks for nutritious and delicious food like this.

Green Bean Casserole with Fried Onions
Makes 4 large servings

For the sauce:
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
1 quart whole milk
1 cup shredded fontina cheese, or other mild melting cheese
salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste

For the casserole:
1/2 onion, diced fine (mine was red)
1 package crimini mushrooms, sliced thin
1 colander full of fresh green beans, chopped into bite-sized pieces

For the topping:
1 large onion, sliced into long thin strips (mine was a red onion, and I only used half)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
light oil - not olive oil, for frying (about 1 cup), I used canola oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

First, make your sauce by melting the butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and let it cook for 2 minutes. Add milk, whisking constantly and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until it coats the back of a spoon. Stir in shredded cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Taste it to make sure it's good.

Then, in a large skillet, saute your onion in some olive oil or butter until soft. Add mushrooms and continue cooking until they brown. Add green beans, salt, and pepper and cook until green beans start to soften, about 5 minutes. I added 1 Tbsp of water and covered the pan for a couple of minutes to finish cooking the beans.

Mix together your sauce and green beans (you may not need all your sauce, use your best judgment) and pour in a casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot all the way through and bubbling.

While the casserole is in the oven, put cornstarch and salt in a large ziploc bag. Add your sliced onions and shake until they're all coated. Heat your oil until shimmering. Add onions and cook until they start to turn dark. Remove onions from oil and drain on a kitchen or paper towel. Sprinkle with more salt while still hot. Spread fried onions over green bean casserole fresh from the oven and serve immediately.

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