And oh-hoh, how it’s evolved over my 39 years. I remember thinking it was good when Mom made it with canned cream of mushroom soup, equally canned green beans, and vacuum sealed ‘french onions.’ Then realizing how much better it was with fresh green beans… and eventually making the entire dish from scratch, complete with fresh mushrooms sautéed with garlic and heavy cream, topped with my own crispy oven baked onions.
All of which, is now dead to me. One bite of this was all it took, I was forever a changed green bean casserole devotee.
I actually found this recipe in an old issue of Southern Living magazine, and wondered how I had overlooked it for this long. A few minor alterations, and BOOM. Say hello to my new favorite holiday food.
Goat Cheese and Roasted Pecan Green Bean Gratin
(makes 4 servings)
1/2 cup chopped roasted pecans (divided)
1 lb fresh green beans (washed and trimmed to bite size pieces)
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want to go all-veg)
2 ounces goat cheese (crumbled)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (divided)
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp olive oil
To roast the pecans, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spread the chopped pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven for 6 – 8 minutes, or until they start to smell nice and toasty.
To make the gratins, turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Bring the chicken (or veg) stock to a boil in a large pot, then add the washed and trimmed green beans and just enough water to cover the beans. Cook them until they’re al dente (fork tender, but still crisp) then drain and transfer to a large bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process. (This will also ensure your beans stay a fantastic shade of bright green.)
Return the cooked beans to the pot (removed from the heat), then add the goat cheese, cream, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese, and 1/4 cup of the roasted pecans. Stir to evenly coat the beans, then spoon even amounts into 4 individual (6 oz) ramekins. (Pack them in pretty tightly.)
Top the beans with any remaining creamy deliciousness from the bottom of the pot, cover each tightly with foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
While the beans are cooking, make the crispy gratin topping by combining the panko bread crumbs, remaining 1/4 cup shredded parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup roasted pecans in a small dish. Drizzle everything with the olive oil and toss to evenly coat.
Uncover the beans, and sprinkle equal amounts of the crumb mixture over each ramekin. Bake for 8 more minutes, or until golden brown. Let them sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Tic-tock. Tic-tock. Tic-tock. Tic-tock. Tic-tock.
OMFG. SO GOOD.