Green Bean Casserole
by Robert Booz
- For the topping:
- 4-5 large shallots, thinly sliced into rounds or demi-rounds
- ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
- Lard or oil for frying
- For the beans:
- 2 lbs. green beans, trimmed and blanched
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 1 cup finely-sliced cremini or button mushrooms, or try Island-grown shiitakes
- 2 small shallots, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 Tbsp. all purpose flour
- 3 cups of whole milk (try The Grey Barn or Mermaid Farm’s milk from the Island)
- ½ cup of grated cheddar cheese (Gruyere also works)
- 1 Tbsp. of sherry
Use a frying or candy thermometer to get the oil to 350˚F in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. You want the oil to be at least an inch or so deep but not more than three inches from the top of the pot. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the temperature using a piece of onion as the oil heats up: just when it causes the oil to bubble very rapidly you are in the right neighborhood. Toss your onions in flour making sure that they don’t stick together. Shake off any excess flour and fry in small batches until they are golden brown, about a minute. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a cooling rack or towels. Sprinkle them with salt immediately and reserve.
Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
Put the milk in a small saucepan and make it hot but do not let it boil. In a large saucepot over medium heat, cook the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic until they are soft and slightly browned. Sprinkle in the flour and stir, breaking up any clumps. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue stirring until the mixture darkens slightly (about 3 minutes). Add the hot milk slowly while stirring vigorously to make sure all ingredients are well incorporated and continue to stir leisurely until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the mixture from the heat and mix in the cheese, then the beans, then the sherry. Use a rubber spatula to transfer this to an appropriately sized casserole (approximately three quarts) and smooth down. Cover with the topping and bake until brown and bubbly, approximately 15 minutes.
Recipe yields 4 to 6 servings.