Austin, Keeper of the Family Culinary Flame
My grandson, Austin, told me that he plans to make a green bean casserole for Thanksgiving. I couldn’t believe that someone in the Millennial age bracket wanted to make a recipe from so long ago.
Learning in the Kitchen
“Is that the old recipe with the Campbell’s soup, sour cream, canned green beans, and canned, fried onion rings?” I asked in disbelief.
“Same thing, but better,” he replied. “I make my own wild mushroom soup base, which cuts Campbell out of the mix.”
Austin read me the recipe and it definitely sounded healthier and even more flavorful than the original.
“If you make it, you’ll never go back to the old way,” he said. “There are several versions on the Internet, but I prefer the one used by chef J. Kenji-Lopez Alt.”
(As it turns out, I have Kenji’s nearly 1000-page cookbook The Food Lab. Whenever I hoist it onto the kitchen counter, I’m convinced it should’ve been published in two, or more, volumes.)
J. Kenji-Lopez Alt Update
Kenji points out that there are three aspects to the recipe: (1) the green beans, (2) the sauce, and (3) the shallot topping. If time is a factor, any of these parts can be traded out: canned beans in place of the fresh or frozen–though the fresh ones have a more colorful look.
But Chef Kenji warns not to put fresh, uncooked green beans in the casserole. They will not get done. So be sure to blanch first.
Or Try a Semi-Home Made Version
As to the sauce, the old-time version can be used, though Austin prefers his wild, fungi sauce to the creamy Campbell’s soup.
If need be, you can revert back to the canned, French-fried onions, too. Or better yet, use pre-fried shallots available at Thai or Vietnamese stores. Even better, fry your own fresh shallots for a crispier, more flavorful topping.
Happily, the casserole can be maneuvered to suit your family’s taste and even made ahead.