Green bean casserole is one of those dishes that you either love, or love to hate. I, myself absolutely love it. I look forward to it every year. There’s nothing better than crisp green beans enveloped in a creamy sauce topped with salty fried onions. What I don’t love is condensed cream of mushroom soup. That stuff is nasty. What goes into that can is anything but natural. My take on green bean casserole is stepped up a notch without sacrificing any classic holiday flavors. And besides, the best meal of the year deserves far better than creepy canned goods (I’m lookin’ at you, cranberry sauce!).
This version starts out the best way possible, with caramelized shallots. The shallots instantly give the dish a homey taste that you expect at Thanksgiving. Then we add a delectable blend of mushrooms that includes baby bellas, shittakes, and oysters which are far better than those unrecognizable gray chunks in a can. I like to pick up the gourmet blend of pre-sliced mushrooms at my grocery store to cut down on cost and prep time. After that we add cream, fresh thyme, sharp Vermont cheddar, and chicken stock to create the foundation of the casserole. Since green beans are no longer in season in Illinois, I decided to use frozen instead, and I think it worked out better. This way, there’s no chance of over cooking. After the filling is assembled, you sprinkle on the delectable topping. This is where it gets good. The topping is a blend of buttery panko bread crumbs and crispy French fried onions for nostalgia purposes. I love the contrast between the crunchy crust and velvety filling. This gourmet casserole may turn all of those haters into lovers. I mean, how could you not love it?!
Caramelized shallots and mushrooms
Creamy and dreamy homemade mushroom gravy and crisp green beans
Gourmet Green Bean Casserole
Adapted from The Galley Gourmet
For The Topping:
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3 cups (6 ounces) of French fried onions
For the beans and mushroom gravy:
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces assorted mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated Vermont cheddar
- 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 pounds frozen green beans
For the topping:
1. In the bowl of a food processor combine butter and Panko. Pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add fried onions and pulse a few more times until the butter is well incorporated. Set aside.
For the casserole:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add sliced shallots and cook over low heat until they start to caramelize. About 8 to 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are softened and begin to brown. Add fresh thyme and stir.
2. Add the flour to the pot and stir until the onions and mushrooms are coated in flour. Cook for a bout 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add cream and stir. Cook over medium until the sauce has thickened. Add cheese and nutmeg then stir. Pour in chicken broth and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Add frozen green beans to the sauce and stir to coat. Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle the topping over the beans and bake until it is golden and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool for 7 minutes before serving.
**To make in advance-
The topping can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, then combined with the fried onions just before cooking. Once the beans and sauce have cooled separately, they can be combined. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. To serve, remove the plastic wrap and cover with foil. Heat the the casserole in a 400º F oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil, add the topping, then bake for another 10-15 or until browned and bubbling.