Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

To be honest, I was a little bit skeptical about this recipe when I first saw it (again...Pioneer Woman Cooks rules the day)....but I thought about it for awhile and decided it would be on the Thanksgiving menu.  Now, a couple of years ago I tried out this recipe for green beans, also from the Pioneer Woman, and although she raves about it profusely, it just didn't go over well with my family.  I seem to remember throwing out most of the leftovers because nobody would eat them. 

But that was then.  This is NOW.  And this recipe rules

I think it has to be my favorite green bean recipe.  A couple of my kids didn't care for it as much and resorted to scraping the delectable sauce off of the beans before eating them.  Weirdos.  (said in the most affectionate way). 

Another great thing about it; you can make it ahead.  I actually made it on Wednesday, didn't top with the panko crumbs, and refrigerated it overnight.  Around mid-morning, I removed it from the fridge to allow it to warm up a little.....topped with the crumbs, and baked it with the sweet potato casserole while the turkey was resting and getting carved.  Worked beautifully.

2 lbs. fresh green beans, ends trimmed off
5 slices bacon, cut into 1/4" pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 T. butter
4 T. all purpose flour
2-1/2 c. whole milk (+ more for thinning if necessary)
1/2 c. half and half
1-1/2 t. salt (more to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Dash cayenne pepper
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 jar (4 oz) sliced pimentos, drained
1 c. Panko bread crumbs

Cut the green beans in half or thirds if desired.  I did thirds.  Easier for kids (and me!) to eat.

Blanch the green beans:  Drop them into a pan of lightly salted boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  Drain beans once they're cool and set aside.

Put bacon pieces in a preheated skillet and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.  Add garlic and onions and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes, until bacon is done (but not crisp) and onions are golden brown.  Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk immediately to evenly mix it into the butter.  Cook for a minute or two, then pour in the milk and half-and-half.  Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens....2-4 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, cayenne, and grated cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted; remove from heat.

Add pimentos to pan, then add the bacon/onion mixture. Stir to combine.  Pour over green beans and stir carefully to combine.  Pour into a 13 x 9" baking dish and top with panko crumbs.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and crumbs are golden.

Linked to Ultimate Recipe Swap: Cheese

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