Sunday, March 14, 2010

Non-Southern Green Beans

So, I have to tell you the backstory for this recipe first.

A week and a half ago I went bounding out of bed at 2 a.m. on a quest to get more Melatonin for Miss B, who had not slept in over 48 hours. Instead of moving the baby gate (which was propped in the doorway - not locked into the doorway), I attempted to step over it, which I have done successsfully many, many times.

Really, I have.

Call it sleep deprivation, exhaustion, laziness, whatever you will, but my right foot did not clear the baby gate and I went down, hard, on my left elbow and the base of my left hand. Still today, I cannot use a manual or electric can opener.

Those regular sized cans with pop-top lids, that I was actually able to find, are twice as expensive as regular cans twice their size. But I digress. We simply have to have canned peaches and tomatoes. And I thought - green beans, too. I looked in three grocery stores and found not one single pop-top can of green beans.

Being a Southern Girl I have witnessed many fine cooks preparing fresh green beans, or snap beans as they are often referred to in our part of the world. But I have never attempted to cook them myself. Since green beans are a required food in my life, in the final grocery store I hurried over to the produce dept. where I chose a bag of fresh organic green beans.

So today I was thinking about those green beans, and green beans that I have had in non-Southern restaurants before and I really wanted to have that flavor instead of the green beans I usually prepare with smoked ham. I turned to Google for help and I found several recipes for green beans that did not include bacon or ham. What follows is what I came up with, based on several recipes that just did not give me the desired effect until I took them a little farther. This is my green bean recipe exactly as it happened, necessity being the mother of invention and all...

(And, yes, I do have a small container of bacon grease in my refrigerator at all times.)

1 1/2 pounds fresh organic green (snap) beans
pure cane sugar
Earth Balance organic buttery spread
bacon grease

Remove the ends from the green beans and cut into smaller pieces, or leave whole. Rinse well in a colander. Put the green beans into a pot with enough water to cover them. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to med-med. low. Cook for 7 minutes. Drain in a colander, but do not rinse. Into the empty, still hot pot, put 1 tablespoon Earth Balance organic buttery spread, 1 tablespoon bacon grease, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pure cane sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. When melted and combined, put green beans back into the pot, stir to coat well, cover, and simmer over med. low to low heat for 10 minutes, stirring 3-4 times to completely coat the beans with the delicious juices every time. (What I noticed at this point was that some of the thinner green beans had begun to shrivel, but the thicker beans had not and were not quite the consistency I wanted, so I let them simmer, covered for 2 more minutes. I have no idea how those restaurants achieve the cosnistency and flavor they do without the beans shriveling, but I wish I did!) Remove from heat and toss the beans again to redistribute the juices. Serve with a slotted spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Do not drain the liquid out of the pot! If you go back for more, stir the beans to coat well with the juices each time.) Serves 4-6.

~ These would probably be very good with thinly sliced sweet onions added during the last 10 minutes of the cooking process, though I have not tested this theory. ~