|Fresh green beans, blanched then seasoned with onion, garlic and herbs, and tossed with bacon and pecans and a browned butter pan sauce.|
Browned Butter Green Beans with Bacon and PecansWhen I'm putting a meal on my table, Mrs. George's voice still rings in my conscience when it comes to menu planning.
She was my Occupational Home Economics teacher at Biloxi High School and I truly loved her. The term "Occupational Home Ec" probably sounds odd, but it was the way that the Future Homemakers of America were addressing the fact that women had transitioned from being full time homemakers to working women - who happened to still run the home too. What that meant, was that I attended my core classes so I could still graduate, had several hours of OHE and then... I worked. And, until Hurricane Katrina moved my employer from the Gulf Coast, I never stopped.
That was back in the days when home economics was an important part of every girl's life. It was where I first learned about meal planning, really got in the kitchen all on my own to cook and bake, sewed my first zipper in a skirt... and promptly learned how to rip it out and redo it. I actually still have the sewing kit I used back then, along with a Sears Kenmore sewing machine that I got my senior year of high school.
I hope that somehow Mrs. George knows that it stuck, because I still automatically think of the arrangement of a balanced plate when I decide on what's for supper. Do I always follow it? Of course not. I mean we Southerners are notorious over-loaders of the carbohydrate. We will get a veggie plate at our favorite country restaurant that contains macaroni and cheese, hashbrown casserole, fried okra and pinto beans, plus those made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits or corn muffins on the side. Without blinking an eye.
When it comes to a vegetable though, green beans have always been a go-to in our house... mostly because it is one vegetable I can be sure that my husband will eat! I have a few ways that I like to prepare them, but my top favorite, and the one I prepare the most, is cooked down with some bacon drippings and a little bit of sauteed onion, and sometimes tiny new potatoes. I use fresh, frozen and canned green beans. Doesn't matter to me - they're all good.
When a holiday rolls around though, I do like to jazz them up just a bit, whether that's dressed in the sweet and sour flavor we Southerners love so much, or simply tossed with a few herbs and maybe a touch of sliced almonds, or chopped walnuts or pecans, as they are here.
This Christmas, I decided to go with a browned butter sauce and pecans, and of course, a little bacon accent. Now... browned butter isn't the same as burned and bitter butter. It just refers to letting the butter cook down until the water has evaporated out of it, and the solids separate and brown. It develops a light brown color and a nutty taste and fragrance, that is great as a base to add in pastries and cakes, or, along with the addition of a variety of herbs and an acid, is a flavorful sauce for fish, tossed with pasta, or like here, as a dressing for vegetables.
Besides trimming the ends off the beans, you can also cut them in half, or even into thirds if you like.
Here's how to make them.
Recipe: Browned Butter Green Beans with Bacon and Pecans©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 10 min | Yield: About 8 servings
- 2 pounds of fresh green beans, trimmed
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 3 slices of bacon
- 1/2 cup of chopped sweet or yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon of finely minced garlic
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of unsalted, cold butter
- 1/2 cup of pecan halves, roughly chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon of dried sage
- 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
- Salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning, to taste
- 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
Trim beans and cut in half or thirds, if desired. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt and beans, return to a boil and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and immediately dredge into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain again and set aside. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Set aside and when cool, roughly chop. Add onion to the bacon drippings and cook until tender, about 5 minutes; add garlic, cook another minute, scrape the skillet clean and set aside.
Cut the butter into slices and add to the skillet; increase heat to medium high, and cook, constantly stirring the butter until it is lightly browned and fragrant. Add the pecans; cook and stir, to toast, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat, add the drained beans and toss them in the butter until heated through. Add the onion, seasonings and chopped bacon. Taste, adjust seasonings, squeeze fresh lemon on top, add parsley, toss again and transfer to serving dish. Serve immediately.
Cook's Notes: Okay to substitute an equal amount of cooked, frozen or canned whole green beans (drained and right out of the can). You may also use other nuts such as sliced or slivered almonds or roughly chopped walnuts or hazelnuts. Use fresh herbs when you have them. You must, however, use real butter - no substitutes for this one!
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