Real Deal String Bean Casserole with Home-Fried Crispy Onions

We have all eaten some version of string bean casserole. Campbell’s advertises their cream of mushroom soup around the holidays just for that purpose. You’ll even find a recipe on the back of the can. I happen to find canned creamy soup unappetizing so I set out last Thanksgiving to make string bean casserole from scratch–no preservatives or canned anything.  It was worth the extra effort. I promise.

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Photos courtesy of Lisa Effren Photography.

*You can make this in a cast iron pan but we don’t have one big enough.

Ingredients:

Crispy Onions
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced (use 3 if you want to snack-it’s hard not to eat them)
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
Salt & Pepper
Canola oil, for frying

Mushroom Sauce
3 tablespoons or so butter
1 package of mushrooms, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

1-2 shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream or similar substitute

1.5 lbs of fresh string beans, trimmed and cleaned

Instructions:

Using a mandolin, cut your onion into thin strips.

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Toss the onions with the flour, bread crumbs, salt and pepper.

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Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a pan and test the temperature by dropping one onion in. It should sizzle.

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Only cook a handful or so at a time in small batches. Place the finished ones on a paper bag lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil. *Beware: hide these somewhere while you compile the rest of the dish- or they will somehow disappear.

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Par boil the string beans in salted water and then place in a ice bath to stop the cooking. The last thing we want are mushy string beans.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

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To make the mushroom sauce:

Over medium-high heat, melt butter in the bottom of a pan or cast iron skillet. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute them for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, shallots and saute one minute more.

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Add the flour and combine.

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Add the broth a little at a time and keep stirring. Let it simmer for a minute or so, add the cream and bring to a simmer again while stirring. In about 5 minutes or so the sauce should thicken.

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Pour the mixture over the string beans in a baking dish. Add onions and bake until everything bubbles – about 15 minutes.

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