I LOVE green bean casserole. I love it so much, that it was the first holiday food tradition that I adopted as my own.
My mom didn’t really care much either way about it, so she never made it, and I didn’t know what I was missing for the first couple decades of my life. When I was in college, my grandma brought one to our house for Christmas Eve. I was blown away.
There was nothing particularly earth shattering about her recipe. It was just canned beans, canned soup, and canned onions, but I was in heaven.
The next year, I decided to make it myself, and *chin held high in a self impressed manner* I would make it from scratch. I found a fancy recipe in one of my cookbooks, and spent literally hours making it. I made the cream of mushroom soup from scratch, and the green beans were fresh.
The green beans. This is where my pride completely made a fool out of me. The way that I thought I was supposed to prepare them, and what the directions said were completely different. I literally didn’t figure out how ridiculous I was being until this year, not until I revisited that old recipe for inspiration and “re-read” the directions…
It turned out that I had wasted hours over the years, because I misread ONE WORD in the recipe.
That first time I made it, after slaving in front of a hot oven, simmering down my from scratch cream of mushroom soup, I peeked at the book to see what I was supposed to do with the green beans.
Here’s what the directions said, “Cut green beans crosswise in half.”
Here’s what I read…
“Cut green beans lengthwise in half.”
The difference between these two methods of cutting green beans in half may not sound all that different, but in practical terms, they are VERY different.
I still have no idea why I mixed up the concept of crosswise and lengthwise, but I didn’t even question it. In my mind, anything this cookbook said must be gospel. They were the experts, not me, and I would follow their instructions to the letter!
I figured that green beans split down the middle must be more tender, they must taste more delicate, and they must be far superior to any other green beans.
Needless to say, I spent quite a while that Thanksgiving splitting green beans, lengthwise, one at a time…
The casserole was delicious, the beans tender, and my little proud heart hardly enjoyed any dish more. I had worked SO hard for it
The worst part is, I didn’t just do it that time. I did it at least 3 more times, each time growing more weary and suspicious of why it was necessary to split them one by one down the middle.
One day I was at the grocery store shopping for the fresh beans again, and I saw fancy “haricots verts.” The nice thin green beans that I thought might be thin enough for me to avoid having to stand there for an hour, fussing over one bean at a time.
I felt like I was cheating when I bought them and went ahead and made the casserole without splitting them. Surprise surprise! They tasted just as good as the last few batches and took a fraction of the time to prepare.
I never went back. Haricots verts for life!
Then, when I was doing research for this recipe, I pulled out that cookbook and looked at the first green bean casserole I ever made, read the instructions and smacked my palm against my face.
Crosswise. As in, just cut into two fat pieces, as in, you can do like 20 at one time.
Sometimes all I can do is laugh at myself.
I still use fresh beans, but I’ve even given up on the fancy homemade cream of mushroom soup. I just honestly can’t justify the slight improvement in taste over the massive convenience of using the packaged kind, especially when we’re talking about a side dish to a holiday where there are only about a billion other things to prepare.
If you’re like me, you may not want to be limited to eating green bean casserole as a side, only once or twice a year. Maybe you want it on a Tuesday night in January, and maybe, you don’t want to have to make more than one dish.
That’s why I added chicken to this recipe! Now it’s an entree, instead of just a side.
You are after that holiday side? No problem, just omit the chicken and add more green beans!
Easy day 🙂
Aside form the optional chicken meat, the filling is your pretty standard green bean casserole filling. Green beans, cream of mushroom soup, milk and mushrooms. The topping goes a little further than fried onions. Don’t worry, they’re in there, but you’ve also got white bread, roasted garlic cloves, seasoning and butter.
The combo of the roasted garlic and fried onions is so good! You can see the same roasted garlic tutorial here that I posted in my Easy Garlic Mashed Potato recipe, or if you don’t want to bother, you can use 1 or 2 cloves of fresh garlic.
Ummm, can you believe that Thanksgiving is only 2 days away!?! 2 days! Of course, I really do love Thanksgiving, but one of the best parts is the fact that once it over, IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME!!
That means we can start listening to Christmas music (errr…I can stop only listening to Christmas music on my headphones, and when I’m driving alone in the car…) Is that oversharing? Most likely.
Anybody else out there secretly listening to Christmas music already?
- FOR THE FILLING:
- 20 oz (32 oz if not adding chicken) green beans, trimmed and cut in half, crosswise
- 2 10.75 oz cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 lb white mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced
- 1 tbl unsalted butter
- 3 cups cooked, diced chicken meat
- ½ tsp salt
- FOR THE TOPPING:
- 2 slices white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
- 2 cups canned fried onions
- 4 cloves roasted garlic OR 1-2 cloves raw garlic
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 2 tbl unsalted butter, melted
- FOR THE FILLING:
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Put 3 quarts of water on in a large pot on the stove to boil.
- When water is boiling, add beans. Cook until just fork tender (not too soft), about 8-10 minutes.
- Drain beans, carefully and return to pot.
- In a medium saute pan, over a medium flame, add 2 tbl butter and let melt. When melted, add mushroom and cook down until they are fork tender but not rubbery, 5-7 minutes. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine cream of mushroom soup, milk and salt. Set aside.
- FOR THE TOPPING:
- In a food processor, combine bread, garlic cloves, and fried onions until just combined, then add melted butter through the feed tube while pulsing. As soon as the butter is incorporated, stop mixing. Set topping mixture aside.
- Add to green beans cooked mushrooms, chicken, and cream of mushroom soup mixture, and stir well to combine.
- Transfer to a 9X13 pan, and cover the top with bread crumb mixture.
- Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, or until filling bubbles and top is browned.