Monday, January 14, 2008

CSA week seven - bacon smotherered green beans

When I got home today really didn't want to turn on the computer and start doing research so I haven't actually read any of the green bean recipes I saw on Saturday. I ended up winging it, making some unusual cooking decisions along the way and got really lucky at how well it turned out. I didn't measure anything so this is a an approximate reconstruction of what I did.

4 slices thick hickory-smoked bacon, cut into 1/2" lardons
3/4 lb green beans, ends removed and broken into few-inch-long pieces
3/4 cup thickishly sliced red onion
3/4 cup thinly sliced cremini or baby bella mushrooms
1 handful cherry tomatoes, rinsed and well dried
1 cup chicken broth
1 large handful egg noodles

1. Boil water in medium pot and cook noodles to al dente firmness.

2. In very hot wok, render bacon in a teaspoon of canola, peanut or corn oil until browned and crisp. Remove to bowl with slotted spoon leaving behind as much fat as possible.

3. Add green beans to wok. Stir fry until the beans are cooked slightly and have browned bits here and there. Salt to taste. Remove green beans with a slotted spoon to a second bowl again leaving behind as much fat as you can.

4. Add onions and mushrooms. Fry briefly until onions and mushrooms are soft, but not browned. Salt to taste again. Remove to bowl with bacon. Most of the fat will have been absorbed by now.

5. Return green beans to pan. Add chicken broth. Turn heat down to medium. Stir and scrape bottom to get up any browned bits. Cook uncovered until broth has reduced to half cup (several minutes). Cover and cook until beans are just tender (another couple minutes).

6. Meanwhile, in separate cast iron or non-stick pan, heat a teaspoon of oil. When hot, add tomatoes to char, stirring frequently. This is simulating grilling. If you can do that conveniently, go ahead.

7. Uncover beans and add noodles. Cook for another minute. Add everything else. Mix and heat through. Adjust seasonings. Serve.

I think the unusual order of cooking is important so that onions and mushrooms don't absorb all of the fat before it can get used to cook the mushrooms, but they do get it out of the way so the beans can braise properly.

The end result is very tasty with lots of bacon flavor but each of the vegetables clearly coming through as well. Maybe it could use seasoning beyond salt and pepper. Thyme maybe?

I'll bet this recipe would work well with asparagus spears too.

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