Why It Works
- Using blanched fresh green beans instead of canned or frozen yields a brighter color and a crisp-tender texture.
- A homemade mushroom sauce, made with butter, cream, chicken stock, and a touch of soy sauce, lends the casserole extra nutty and savory flavors.
- Homemade fried shallots are crisper and more flavorful than canned French-fried onions, and they're a great condiment to keep on hand for all sorts of dishes.
The classic Campbell's green bean casserole is a staple on many Thanksgiving tables. But there are easy ways to upgrade the out-of-the-can version, without transforming it into something unrecognizable.
First things first: If you're intimidated by the length and number of steps in the recipe attached here, bear in mind that you don't need to use the whole thing. You can use canned fried onions instead of frying your own. Or, to make it even easier, stick with two cans of cream of mushroom soup instead of making your own creamy mushroom sauce.
Because, if the only thing you do is substitute real blanched green beans for the canned variety, you're already giving your green bean casserole a major upgrade.
How to Make Green Bean Casserole From Scratch
Step 1: Fry Your Own Shallots
My fried shallots are inspired by Thai-style fried shallots, something that you should have on hand in your kitchen all the time. I make mine in batches of a couple pounds. (To cook more than what's called for in this recipe, just increase the amount of oil to keep them covered.)
A mandoline makes quick work of the shallots, and yields perfectly thin and even slices. Simply add them to a pan or wok, cover with oil, turn your heat up to high, and stir. The shallots will soften and then turn a light golden brown, at which point you can strain them into a bowl. Be sure to reserve the oil, though—we'll be using it again in a minute.
Blot the strained shallots with paper towels until the towels appear dry. Once cooled, the shallots will keep in an airtight container for up to a month. Add them to sandwiches and soups, use them as a garnish for cooked meats, or just eat 'em out of hand, straight out of the jar.
Step 2: Swap the Cream of Mushroom Soup for a Homemade Sauce
For my homemade mushroom sauce, I start by smashing the mushrooms with a skillet. Not only is it an extremely satisfying procedure, but it creates imperfect chunks of mushrooms, just like what you find in the canned stuff.
I sauté the mushrooms in that aromatic shallot oil, along with a cube of butter for some extra rich and nutty flavor. Once they've begun to sizzle, after about five to 10 minutes, I stir in some minced garlic, then add flour to thicken the base, stirring until it forms a light golden-blond roux.
Whisking in a mixture of heavy cream, chicken stock, lemon juice, and soy sauce adds richness, moisture, acidity, and a burst of umami that coaxes out the mushrooms' natural savory character. I bring the sauce to a boil, then simmer until its consistency is slightly thinner than pancake batter.
Step 3: Use Fresh Green Beans
Using fresh green beans is hands down the simplest way to upgrade your casserole. For the brightest flavor and a crisp-tender texture, I blanch the trimmed beans in salted boiling water for five minutes, then shock them in an ice bath to halt the cooking process.
Step 4: Putting It All Together
Assembling the casserole couldn't be simpler: Just combine the green beans, mushrooms, and a cup of the shallots in a bowl, and stir to evenly distribute all the ingredients. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish, bake at 350°F (180°C) for 15 to 20 minutes until it's hot and bubbly, and top with more shallots to serve.
How to Make Green Bean Casserole Ahead of Time
If you want to help streamline your Thanksgiving Day prep, making your green bean casserole in advance is a no-brainer. Start with the fried shallots, which can be made up to one month in advance and kept in an airtight container. The mushroom sauce (steps six through 10 in the attached recipe) can also be made up to four days in advance.
Two days before serving, you can assemble the entire thing—beans, mushroom sauce, and one cup of the fried shallots—in a baking dish and refrigerate. To complete the casserole, cover the dish with foil and stick it in a preheated 350°F oven until hot, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until it's bubbly, about 10 minutes longer. Top with an additional cup of fried shallots, then serve.
The Ultimate Homemade Green Bean Casserole
1 pound (450g) shallots, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick on a mandoline
2 cups (480ml) canola oil
1 1/2 pounds (675g) white button mushrooms, rinsed and spun dry in a salad spinner
2 teaspoons (10ml) soy sauce
2 teaspoons (10ml) lemon juice from 1 lemon
2 cups (480ml) low-sodium store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 1/2 cups (360ml) heavy cream
2 tablespoons (30g) butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated on a Microplane grater
1/4 cup (30g) flour
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds (900g) green beans, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch segments
Combine shallots and oil in a wok or medium nonstick saucepan. Shallots should barely stick out above level of oil. Place over high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are completely soft, about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet with 6 layers of paper towels. Continue to cook shallots, stirring constantly, until shallots are light golden brown, about 8 minutes.
Immediately strain through a fine-mesh strainer set in a heat-proof bowl or saucepan. Set shallot oil aside. You should have about 2 cups of fried shallots.
Transfer fried shallots to paper towels. Lift up one end of top paper towel and roll shallots off onto second. Blot with first towel to absorb excess oil. Repeat 4 more times, transferring shallots from one paper towel to the next, until only one paper towel remains. Season well with salt.
Allow shallots to cool completely, about 45 minutes. Once they've cooled, transfer to a sealed airtight container. Shallots can be made up to 1 month in advance.
Smash mushrooms under the bottom of a large skillet until broken into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces. Roughly chop into pieces approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch in size. Set aside.
Combine soy sauce, lemon juice, chicken stock, and heavy cream in a 1-quart liquid measuring cup or medium bowl.
Add 2 tablespoons (30ml) reserved shallot oil (save remainder in an airtight container for another use) and butter to a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Heat over high heat until butter is melted and foaming subsides. Add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated and mushrooms begin to sizzle, 6 to 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-high. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden blond, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, add stock and cream mixture.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until mixture achieves a texture between pancake batter and heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Bring 1 gallon (3.8L) water and 1/4 cup (48g) kosher salt to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with 1 quart ice cubes and 2 quarts (1.9L) water.
Add green beans to water and boil until tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Drain through a colander set over the sink and immediately transfer to ice water until completely cooled. Drain green beans and set aside.
Combine green beans, mushroom sauce, and 1 cup fried shallots. Transfer to a 9- by 13-inch rectangular baking dish or a 10- by 14-inch oval baking dish. Bake until hot and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Top with remaining cup fried shallots and serve.
You can use canned fried onions or shallots instead of making your own in steps 1 and 2. For better results, look for fried shallots in a Thai or Vietnamese market—but French's will do just fine if that's what you prefer. Slice the shallots on a plastic mandoline (like a Benriner) to get even results. The oil used to fry the shallots can be saved in an airtight container, away from the light, for up to three months. Use it for stir-fries or in salad dressings.
How to Scale Down This Recipe to Feed a Smaller Crowd
This recipe can be scaled down by half. To do it: divide all ingredients by two, substitute a 10-inch skillet for the baking dish listed.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Fried shallots can be made up to one month in advance and stored in an airtight container. Mushroom sauce can be made up to four days in advance. Assembled casserole can be made and stored up to two days in the refrigerator. To complete, cover with foil and heat in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven until hot, about 30 minutes. Uncover and cook until bubbly, about 10 minutes longer. Top with a cup additional fried shallots and serve.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 8 to 12|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 20g||25%|
|Saturated Fat 9g||44%|
|Total Carbohydrate 19g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||18%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 13mg||66%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|