Saturday, November 28, 2015

What did Father make for Thanksgiving?

I enjoyed Thanksgiving at my cousin's house, with some of his family and mine. With his and my parents gone, our siblings are scattered over half the country, and we do not often get together. My cousin has lost two of his brothers; I am blessed to say all my siblings are still on their earthly journey.

At any rate, my cousin suggested I bring a side dish and something to drink. So I brought along two bottles of wine (one white, one red), and for a side dish, I paid an homage to my dear, late aunt -- my cousin's mother. She always made green bean casserole -- you know, the kind with cream of mushroom soup and fried onion rings? While I have nothing against doing it that way, I wanted to do it somewhat differently. (I worked from a recipe on Allrecipes, but I can't find it just now, sorry.)

So, I started with water, heated to boiling, for the fresh green beans. I used a two-pound package.

Here are all the other ingredients, spread out.

OK, you can probably figure out what's happening here...

This is both bacon fat, as well as some butter, melting in the pan. The bacon fat was poured off the "baconator" (a plastic rack for cooking bacon in the microwave). Sorry I didn't get a picture of that. I cooked up about 20 slices of bacon, as called for.

In go the sliced mushrooms. Not all of them, however. I was following the recipe; in retrospect, I might easily have doubled, or tripled, the amount of mushrooms.

The recipe didn't call for it, but I wanted onions. So I sliced one up, and sauteed it in butter. Again, in retrospect, I might easily have doubled the quantity.

The mushrooms cooked up nicely, especially with much added garlic powder. FYI, this is a nice way to cook mushrooms: just butter (or oil or fat), salt, pepper, and LOTS of garlic powder, especially toward the end. The garlic coats the mushrooms. I like to make mushrooms that way as a side dish to a steak. Here, I added nearly a pint of heavy cream (I say "nearly," because I'd used some of it for something else, I don't recall what. I figured it would be enough).

Here are the beans, out of the water, into the baking pan. No, it's not a very pretty pan. I tend to cook my vegetables a little firmer. That's how I like them.

Here are the onions, just about to go on the beans. By the way, this is also a very nice way to cook onions as a side dish. Just add salt and pepper.

I like the onions with a bit of browning like this.

The recipe called for thickening the cream. I don't think I thickened it enough, but I was getting impatient to get on the road. If I do this again, I'll cook it longer.

I also didn't show you the process of turning the crispy slices of bacon into bacon bits. This is where my food processor proved very useful. I did the task in two batches, no problems. What's more, there was an added bonus:


All around the inside of the bowl of the food processor was a light dusting of fine grains of bacon. Pixie dust is imaginary; bacon dust, I am pleased to inform you, is real! And delicious! Magically delicious! If I could have gotten my head inside that bowl, to lick it out, I would have.

At any rate, here's the bacon on top of the casserole. I actually only used about half of it.

You'll also notice some parmesan cheese, which I put on first. In fact, this is where I cleverly used a leftover. The other day, I made some fish, and that recipe called for coating the fish in a mixture of parmesan cheese and ground almonds. I had a good quantity of that mixture left over, and this seemed a perfect use for it. Almond go nicely with green beans.

So I took the unbaked casserole to Cincinnati and my cousin's girlfriend put it in the oven for 30 minutes.


Everyone seemed to like it, but honestly, I missed the dish my loving aunt would have made. The cream sauce, being thinner, tended to stay to the bottom of the pan. Perhaps had I mixed it with the cheese beforehand? Or else cooked it down further.


Jennifer said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Father. :)

rcg said...

Drooling. I cooked traditional turkey, roasted in the oven. I use a bed of vegetables for the bird to roast in and decant the fat and broth at the end then deglaze the pan with wine, reduce it and return the veggies to the reduction. I then mash, or stick blend, the Vegas to produce a sort of gravy. Salt and pepper to taste.

Roseanna Hatke said...

NO NO NO, Father! The green bean casserole is the only one allowed at Thanksgiving dinner. No alterations. I think it is the law.....and if it isn't it should be. And so what if no one likes it that's traditional! And you don't mess with tradition!!

John F. Kennedy said...

Sometimes, all of the perfect ingredients when combined are lacking something we expected. I suggest doubling everything except the beans and bacon. (I am also a big fans of the French's fried onion topping.)

I got to go to a glutten free household for Thanksgiving! A strange type of stuffing, no pies. We'll make our own dinner next Sunday, with traditional foods.

Patrick said...

Looks good! The thought came to my mind to use some flour or corn starch as a thickener. Almost like sausage grave for breakfast.