Thanksgiving is right over the horizon, and many people are starting to stress out about family gatherings and food shopping. There’s nothing like the holidays to create discord and short tempers over all the dietary issues crammed into one menu.
I face a food dilemma most days of the year because I prefer to source my food as locally as possible. I don’t eat out very often because I like knowing what is in my food. I encourage most people who cross my path to read ingredient labels and learn to make informed choices about the food they eat. I try very hard not to be difficult or stand in judgment about the choices that people make in their diets. But I am not polite when people moan about their health problems while eating a pop-tart.
Over and over and over again, I quietly point out that we make choices with every bite because the food we eat actually fuels our continued existence. I truly believe that if it is difficult to pronounce, it might not be such a good idea to consume it. I have really enjoyed supporting several people in their quest to change their eating habits. It’s fun to celebrate when people feel better and sleep better and take better care of themselves. As I always say, some is better than none when it comes to making good food choices.
Being due diligent about processed and chemical-laden food is fine and well until this time of year arrives and I hear the thud of all those heels digging in.
TRADITION and FAMILY FAVORITES, oh my!
And I hear you. I know how much you look forward to marshmallow on top of every damn thing and how much you must, must, must have green bean casserole topped with those crispy canned onion rings. (In case you were wondering, here are the ingredients: Palm Oil, Wheat Flour, Onions, Soy Flour, Salt, Dextrose, Tbhq and Citric Acid In Propylene Glycol to Protect Flavor).
Ahem. Propylene Glycol is great for de-icing airplanes.
I know you MUST have the dressing and the gravy and the pie and, and, and!
And I say, maybe you can alter a few dishes to cut out some of the over-processed ingredients and save a bit more room for pie. This year, just for me, read the back of that bag or box or can and raise at least an eyebrow to the crazy stuff that can be hidden in your food. I’m not saying you will change it all this year, but maybe this will give you a head start on next year to at least think about it.
I’m expecting a small group for Thanksgiving this year. I have pre-ordered a standing rib roast from Baucom’s Beef. No turkey at my table, but everyone will get over it. I’m making roasted vegetables and this green bean casserole because…bacon.
I’m making gluten (but not grain) free dressing. There will be pie, not gluten free or sugar free or calorie free. There will be pie in all of its glory and not even made by me because one of my guests makes the best damn pies and she offered.
I have spent my adulthood cooking for the holidays. I have catered so others could have an effortless huge dinner on the table, I have worked in various restaurants where people chose to celebrate in public, I have opened my doors repeatedly to small and large crowds of friends, and I have traveled to join my family for feasts over the years. For me, there is only one tradition that I hold dear and that is to make time to give thanks for all of the amazing people and events that have shaped my life. Another year has passed, and once again, I am gifted with the opportunity to stand in a kitchen orchestrating a feast for celebrating all the bounty in our lives.
Hopefully this green bean casserole will appear on your holiday table. You can make it the day before and finish it in the oven right before your big meal. There are no fake ingredients or preservatives, so please eat it all and enjoy!
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
- 1 whole yellow onion, sliced into thin half-moons
- 5 slices uncured smoked bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
- 8-10 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
- ⅓ cup sherry, dry or cream
- 32 ounces (~1 ½ lbs.) fresh or frozen green beans
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded Italian cheese (Asiago, Parmasan etc.)
- ¾ cup shredded Italian cheese for topping
- Oven 350 degrees. 9 x 13 casserole dish well coated with a spray release.
- Cook green beans in a large saucepan filled with an inch of water until crisp tender and drain well in a colander.
- Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil and butter.
- Add the onions and reduce the heat to low. Allow the onions to soften and wilt for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the uncooked chopped bacon pieces and stir. Add the mushrooms and allow to cook slowly until the onions are caramelized and the bacon is brown but not crispy. Stir often and keep the heat on low to keep this from overbrowning. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Raise the heat to high and add the cooked and drained green beans, salt, and pepper and stir well.
- Pour in the sherry, stir, and cover with a tight-fitting lid to allow the beans to steam in the evaporating sherry. This should take 2 or 3 minutes.
- Lift the lid and stir well checking to make sure the beans are tender and all of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add all of the cream and stir well for 2 to 3 minutes scraping up any brown bits and making sure everything gets coated with the heavy cream as it bubbles and reduces to a sauce.
- Turn off the heat and add the grated Italian cheese and stir to combine. Taste for salt. Your cheese may not be as salty as mine.
- Transfer the green bean mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish that has been coated with spray release
- (The above steps can be done the day before and stored in the fridge well covered overnight.)
- Top the casserole with the remaining shredded cheese and place in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until heated through and browned on top.