Holy crap. Can you believe that we’re a month away from Thanksgiving? I can’t. I really can’t. October has gone by in the blink of an eye.
But anyway, we are fast approaching Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. I adore it because it’s just about food, booze, and football—these are a few of my favorite things!
Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where there are the traditional givens: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes–but from there it’s a free for all. For some people it’s just not Thanksgiving if there ain’t marshmallow-covered sweet potatoes; for others there’s just gotta be cranberry sauce–but one of the perennial favorites is the Green Bean Casserole (although we never had this in my home growing up).
This recipe from Yesterdish* is a twist on the holiday classic–it still has the green beans and the French’s onions, but it does not have condensed cream of mushroom soup. And it has a lot of random ingredients you’d find in the Asian foods section of your grocery store. Check it out:
Interesting, eh? I wonder who this mysterious Yi is. I wonder why Yi thought: you know what this needs? Bean sprouts. We need more bean sprouts!!!
I decided to give this a go for one of the Sunday Fundays over at Manny’s house. I assembled the casserole and baked it in my own kitchen, but did the onion topping and the last round of baking right before we served.
This recipe looks pretty easy. With one exception: cream sauce. If you have followed my blog for a while, you know that cream sauce is my nemesis. I have such a hard time getting it right. Since this recipe didn’t include exactly what kind of cream sauce should be used, I went to the good ol’ Joy of Cooking and found the Quick White Sauce recipe:
I had half and half in my fridge (why I had half and half, I cannot remember at this moment. It’s something I don’t typically have. What the hell did I make that called for half and half?) so that is what I used. As for the seasonings, I selected: sherry, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, and black pepper.
Cream sauce done. And, frankly, delicious. If I had thrown in a lot more black pepper and had used some sausage drippings instead of butter…well, I’d have a pretty boss sausage gravy on my hands. Oh Lord. I can’t know how to make sausage gravy. It would be all biscuits all the time.
Now it was just a matter of layering: green beans, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, onions, mushrooms, cream sauce. And repeat.
I ended with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan/Romano (it didn’t say in the recipe what type of cheese, so I went with what I had on hand) and this was ready to go into the oven. So I baked it for 30 minutes and then wrapped it up to take it to Manny’s.
Come dinner time, I sprinkled on the onions and it went back into the oven to reheat and to brown:
Survey says? Not bad.
This definitely seemed lighter than the typical green been casserole. And the fresh bean sprouts and water chestnuts kept their crunch, which was nice. My friend Richard commented, “you can tell that this is so healthy.” I had to giggle. Um. Didn’t ya notice all of that white sauce? That was half and half and butter for days.
Regardless, the dish went over pretty well, so that made me pretty happy. And Manny said that the leftovers heated up nicely the next day. Someone please remind me that he still has my big Early Americana Pyrex casserole dish.
So if you are a big fan of the green bean casserole, maybe this holiday season you want to shake things up a little, and give Yi’s creation a try.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, this year is going to be the first Thanksgiving that I will not be spending with my parents** Which is weird, but it’s also very exciting. I am staying in Baltimore and co-cooking a Stragglers Thanksgiving with one of my besties, Iris. You know what I mean by a Stragglers Thanksgiving, right? It’s a dinner for the folks who are stuck in town or their families can’t come visit. The people with nowhere else to go.
It makes me feel very grown-up, because there won’t be any parents there. Iris and I have already started planning—she’s got the bird and the mashies covered, and I am going to do roasted root vegetables with a horseradish sauce. Plus I’m bringing frozen Mrs. Paul’s candied sweet potatoes. Because for me, that is a fucking MUST. Everything else? Well, we do still have a month, so who knows what will ultimately end up on the menu!
But someone better bring a box of wine.*If you are into food history, go to Yesterdish. Adam has a fascinating collection of handwritten recipe cards from around the country and he delves deep into the origins of some of America’s favorite dishes. **don’t worry–I am going to see my family the week after for Thanksgiving #2 and tree trimming!!!