I’m not sure when I had my first un-casseroled green bean, but I don’t remember being particularly impressed. I actually don’t think I was impressed by a green bean, casseroled or otherwise, until I had them blistered and seasoned with Szechuan spices from a Chinese restaurant. Those are still my favourite green beans, but they are hard to properly recreate at home (or at least in my home; the glass stove is not conducive to wok cooking).
But these glazed haircot verts (French green beans) from Food52 are everything I want in a green bean recipe: easy, quick, and full of flavour. Instead of blanching and then flavoring, the beens are simmered in a mixture of stock and butter to give them “direct access to substances that will add flavour, rather than sap it.”
The recipe calls for a ratio of 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 3 tablespoons of stock for every pound of green beans. The recipe also calls for a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer it all together for about eight minutes in a covered sauce pan, until the green beans are bright green and tender, but not mushy, and you’re done. The combination of butter and stock forms a sauce, which glazes the beans with flavour. Sprinkle on some parm, if you are so inclined.
It’s a good recipe, but it’s a fantastic base for making your own green bean dream. Supplement the garlic with ginger, fresh herbs, whole spices, or sliced fresh chiles, or play around with the stock. I used a cheater’s stock with the roasted onion Better Than Bouillon, and it was delicious. (Actually, I recommend BTB over stock unless your stock is super flavorful.)
You can finish your beans with the recommended parm, but I’m a big fan of parm, lemon, and lots of fresh pepper. A drizzle of a wine reduction or a splash of white wine vinegar would also be tight. Once you get the hang of cooking these glazed greenies, you won’t be able to stop your brain from coming up with variations.