Don't get me wrong. I love a crisp sautéed green bean or a fresh and crunchy green bean salad as much as anyone, but there's a time and a place for everything, and I'd like to make the case for tender braised green beans. The ideal braised green bean should be tender and moist, but still retain a hint of crunch in its walls. It should be cooked in a flavorful liquid so that it has a chance to pick up those flavors that really enhance it. Let's bust out of this al dente prison we're stuck in now, shall we?
Why this recipe works:
- Bacon, onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes form a flavorful base for the braise.
- Adding acid to the braising liquid helps keep the beans crunchy while adding bright flavor.
- 6 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 3 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
- 1 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons butter
Heat bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until fat has rendered and bacon is beginning to crisp, about 6 minutes. Add onions, garlic, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until onions are softened but not browned, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add green beans, stock, and vinegar and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender but retain a slight crunch to them, about 45 minutes.
Remove lid, set heat to high, add butter, and cook, stirring, until liquid is reduced to a saucy glaze, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.