Fresh & French: An Update on the Classic Green Bean Casserole

Here’s a fresh and French update on the classic Green Bean Casserole. Make this once and you’ll never look at Green Bean Casserole the same again. What’s the secret? Comté cheese, shallots, fresh green beans, and a freshly homemade cheese sauce (that’s Mornay, en français!). Fresh, fresh, fresh….and French.

Green Bean and Mushroom Gratin with Comté and Fried Shallots. Photo by Comté Cheese Association/Nicki Sizemore.

Green Bean and Mushroom Gratin with Comté and Fried Shallots. Photo by friend Nicki Sizemore at the Comté Cheese Association.

Sometimes, I think about a classic American recipe, and I wonder: “How would a French cook put their own spin on this?”

So when I spied this recipe from the Comté Cheese Association, I knew I’d have to share this baby. It’s basically a French take on a Green Bean Casserole. (You know—the one with canned cream of mushroom soup and canned onions)?

If you read this blog at all, you know that j'adore this cheese.

If you read this blog at all, you know that j’adore this cheese.

Well, leave it to the French to make it fresher, better, and more indulgent. This version vaguely follows the old midcentury model, but uses crisp fried shallots, fresh mushrooms, and a homemade Comté cheese sauce (rather than that cream of mushroom soup).

What? You don’t know about Comté cheese? Find out more here. It’s a French version of Gruyère….but to my palate, so much more fascinating.

Here’s the recipe:

Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole with Comté and Fried Shallots

Makes 4 to 6 servings (or more, if you have a lot of other things on your holiday table!)

PS: The 1 cup of canola oil sounds like a lot, but its meant to fry the shallots until nice and crisp.

1 cup canola oil
1/2 pound shallots (about 6 whole), peeled and very thinly sliced
1 3/4 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
10 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
1 3/4 cups shredded Comté (about 4 ounces)

Line a large plate with paper towels. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer and lightly smoke. Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until light golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to the paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter a 2- to 3-quart casserole dish.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until crisp-tender, 4-5 minutes. While the beans cook, fill a large bowl with ice water. Drain the beans and immediately plunge them into the ice water to stop cooking. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel to dry.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and toss. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and the minced garlic; cook 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Whisk in the broth and milk and bring to a simmer. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until thickened. Turn off the heat and add half of the shredded Comté, along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; stir until the cheese is melted. Add the green beans and stir to coat.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Comté over the top. Bake 10 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and heated through. Before serving, sprinkle the fried shallots over the gratin. Serve warm.



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