Hell for the Holidays
I hate to say it, but I really do not like Thanksgiving. Not because I don’t want to give thanks and all, but because I hate the entire meal. I truly am thankful for all that I have and for all our ancestors went through, etc, but turkey is not something I like on any level. It just makes you tired and it’s a pain in the ass to cook. It takes up way too much room in the oven, for too long of a time period. Yes, I only have one oven!
The other problem with the whole day is that your guests (that would be annoying family members) have high expectations of re-living their childhood Thanksgiving days through your side dishes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pie, etc. If one veers off the “green bean casserole” recipe from the side of the can and actually attempts to make Martha’s “organic, from scratch version”, then you might as well ask to be handcuffed and taken away. The “this doesn’t taste like MY mom’s green bean casserole recipe” comments will start flying around the room.
And to top it all off, there is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Why can’t they just show the parade? Do they have to keep cutting to 34th Street so we can watch the scantly clad Broadway “stars” dance and sing (lip sync) in the 25 degree weather? Come on, I hope Balloon Boys gets a chance to fly down Central Park West! Now, that would be worth watching!
Of course, the only recourse is to stay in the kitchen and drink heavily.
Martha’s Green Bean Casserole
6 Tbs unsalted butter, plus more for dish
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 lb button mushrooms, stems trimmed, quartered
2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
6 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup canola oil
4 shallots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rings
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion, and saute until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add bell pepper and mushrooms, and cook until softened and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside to cool.
Prepare an ice bath: Fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add beans, and cook until bright green and just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, and plunge into ice bath to stop cooking. When cooled, toss drained beans with mushroom mixture; set aside.
Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup flour, whisk constantly until mixture begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Pour in milk, and continue whisking until mixture has thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in cayenne, nutmeg, and the remaining teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Pour over beans, and toss to combine.
Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking pan. Spread half the green-bean mixture over the bottom. Sprinkle on half the grated Parmesan, and spread with the remaining green beans. Combine the remaining Parmesan and the breadcrumbs, and sprinkle over casserole. Cover with foil, and refrigerate until just before serving.
Heat canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Toss shallot rings with the remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Fry the shallots in batches, turning frequently, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Place in an airtight container, and set aside until ready to serve.