A dish developed in the 1950s by the late Dorcas Reilly while working as a supervisor in the Cambell Soup Company test kitchen, green bean casserole became an iconic Thanksgiving side dish in the United States.
When it was first created, green bean casserole was a convenience dish meant to promote the Campbell products. It was cooked with canned mushroom soup, canned beans and canned French fried onions. Can you imagine? So 50s, right?
Almost three quarters of a century later, green bean casserole has evolved into anything but a convenience dish. There are so many versions, some are simple while others are complicated, but I personally like how Alton Brown made his in Good Eats.
Oh, I miss Good Eats. I miss Alton Brown’s nerdy but fun approach at home cooking. There’s nothing like an intelligent cooking show, really. This recipe is based on his green bean casserole.
What’s the difference between Mr. Brown’s and my recipe? If I remember correctly, he spread the onion slices and panko in in a baking tray and toasted them in the oven. He stirred them occasionally for even browning.
I did the toasting on the stovetop. Opening and closing the oven door multiple times to stir the panko and onion would have resulted in too much stored heat inside the house, and that just wasn’t my idea of happy cooking.
But then again, we’re only four in the family, and a regular-sized frying pan was sufficiently large to allow me to spread the panko and onion slices evenly, and still have room to stir and toss them around. If I were making green bean casserole for a dozen people or more, I would have probably done the toasting in the oven too in my largest baking sheet.
Green Bean Casserole
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- In a bowl, toss the sliced onions with two tablespoons flour, half a teaspoon salt and a quarter teaspoon pepper.
- Heat a frying pan. Over medium heat, cook the flour-coated sliced onions without adding any oil. Stir often. Cook until lightly browned and crisp.
- Add the panko to the onions. Cook, stirring, for about a minute until the bread crumbs are lightly browned. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan. Over medium heat, add the green beans (which you may optionally cut in halves if they are rather long). Toss to coat every piece with butter.
- Sprinkle in a teaspoon salt and half a teaspoon pepper.
- Cook, stirring, for about a minute.
- Sprinkle in the remaining flour and stir well. Cook for another minute.
- Pour in the milk and cream.
- Cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened. Stir in the nutmeg.
- Taste. Add more salt and pepper, if needed.
- Stir in half of the browned onion slices and bread crumbs.
- Pour the beans with all the sauce into an 8″ x 8″ baking dish.
- Sprinkle the remaining onions and bread crumbs over the beans.
- Bake at 375F or just until the sauce is bubbly and the topping is nicely browned and crisp.