Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lean, Mean, Green Bean Machine

You know a dish is good when after cooking it one night you immediately march back to the grocery store and get supplies for another batch. Truth: French beans were on sale for $1.25 per pound, which was extra motivation. And these weren't some sad, brown specimens. They were crisp and sweet when raw, and just deliciously seasoned after following the lead of Deb at Smitten Kitchen. Deb, please allow me to correct your French and pluralize the name of this dish as Haricots Vert with Shallots (surely you'll want more than one!). Did you know the word zydeco is believed to be derived from les haricots? I'm Cajun, so you know I'm close to authoritative on this subject. Speaking of which, I am ashamed I didn't have a specific dish planned for Mardi Gras but there's only one food I associate with the holiday: king cake. I had two different versions shipped up to me from Louisiana, one of which had a pecan praline filling. It was divine. I will be working it off at the gym for a month. A few notes that are mostly differences of taste:
  • I suggest cooking the green beans for a full 4 minutes before cooling. And the cooling step is very important to the whole blanching process, though I'm not completely convinced an ice bath is necessary. A thorough rinse under a cold faucet should do the trick.
  • I like browned shallots and I like lots of them. Again, more of a difference of taste. Adjust the quantity and cooking time to your preference.
  • Sure, they look prettier on the plate left intact. But unless you're eating them with your hands as Deb suggests, it might be more practical to halve the beans once they've been blanched. Everyone will look much more polite eating them this way, if that's a concern.

Double truth: the side tag is a bit of a misnomer: I ate a huge batch of these alone for dinner. Here is your shopping list (I'm doubling the starting quantity):

  • 1 pound of French beans, trimmed and tailed
  • 2-3 shallots
  • 2-3 teaspoons butter
  • 4+ tablespoons diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • lemon wedges

Blanch...BLANCHE! Oh Rue McClanahan, you minx. May you rest in peace. In memoriam, I'm suggesting the Golden Girls theme song as a musical pairing. That came out of nowhere, right?

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