Thursday, December 13, 2012

Green Beans with Bacon and Leeks

For Thanksgiving at my house, we were always kind of rebels. Turkey was never there because my mother didn't like it, and my father had a rare case of recipe ADHD when I was a kid, meaning we tried out something new almost every time. Not that this is bad, it made me the adventurous and adaptable eater and cook that I am today, but I lacked shared food experiences like leftover turkey sandwiches, canned cranberry sauce, and all casseroles in general.

On the few occasians I've atteneded other families' post-Thanksgiving leftover feasts, I've always been impressed with green bean casserole. Now, I really enjoy most other casserole dishes, but the traditional crunchy weird onions on top really make this something I hope to see on others' tables. So this Thanksgiving, while I was considering me and the Man's two person feast, I wanted to make a riff on the classic dish. This dish is an amalgamation of a few recipes I saw, and came about when I threw it together the day before Thanksgiving based on things I had on hand and very little planning. 

Beer-battered leek rings bring the delicious, oniony crunch to the top and instead of a soupy, creamy base, I lightened it (HA! Flavor-wise, at least) with mustard and garlic. Bacon makes it a man's man side dish and keeps tastebuds wanting more.

To whomever believes that holiday food must be overly complicated, I present this recipe for your review.

In total, it has 9 ingredients, it takes at most 20 minutes if prepared from scratch completely and will get you rave reviews. Tuesday, I had Chinese class until 7 o'clock and a potluck to attend at 7:30. I decided to make this because it's easy and has relatively universal appeal. I had to go to the store for a leek and green beans, so I got home at 7:20, and made it to dinner (downstairs mind you) with steaming pan in hand by 7:45. It was gobbled. People had thirds, every morsel was picked from the pan and any remaining sauce was mopped up with bread. This dishes humble presence has been requested at our Christmas potluck dinner and I hope it makes it to your table too. 

Green Beans with Bacon and Leeks
makes about 6 side dish size servings

1-2 appropriately sized bag of cut, frozen green beans **
2-3 slices of thick cut bacon (no maple or pepper bacon here please)
1-2 tablespoons dijon mustard, to taste
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 medium-large leek
1 can of extremely cheap beer
1 cup of all purpose flour
3/4 cup oil (something like corn oil with a higher smoke point)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper

**quick note: I used fresh beans that I trimmed the ends of and then cut into approx. inch length pieces. I'd say I used...perhaps a pound of beans? I buy vegetables here from a small, more or less roadside vendor, so I have no way of really measuring quauntity when I buy other than guessing how much I need for how many people I have. Estimate about a 3/4 of a cup for each person, I used slightly less than 6 cups (once trimmed and cut) for the 6 people I was serving it to.


1. If using fresh beans, trim ends and then snap into roughly 1 inch long pieces. Fill a pot with enough water to completely cover (and then some) the beans, bring to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Boil until beans turn bright green, and when fished out, are tender to the teeth.

If using frozen beans, steam or boil according to directions on the bag. You want beans tender and bright, not mushy and sad. Keep this in mind. 

2. Slice the white and very light green parts of your leek into thin slices, no need to separate each little ring. Pour half the can of beer into a bowl, and the flour into a separate bowl. Add the oil to a frying pan and heat until water flicked at the oil spits. 

In batches, first put leek slices into the beer, then dip in flour, then fry until golden in the pan. I usually just put all the leeks into the beer, then dip into flour as I switch the batch. 

Remove fried leeks to a paper towel lined plate and lightly sprinkle with salt. When finished, dump (...or drink) the last of the beer in the CAN (don't drink the stuff in the bowl, gross), then pour your frying oil into the can for easy disposal later.  Feel free to leave a little oil in the pan, no harm done. 

3.  In the same pan, fry the bacon until it is nicely firm but not crunchy. Take out, dice and set aside. Either remove bacon fat ( could you?!) and add 1 tablespoon olive oil, or leave the bacon fat for added flavor.

4. Heat oil or fat over medium-low heat. Add sliced garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant. Throw in your drained beans and bacon. Stir around to coat beans in garlicky goodness. Add 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard to the pan and stir to coat. Cook for 1 minute, then taste. If you really like mustard, and I do, add another tablespoon of mustard, or as much or as little as tastes right to you. Make sure to cook another minute after adding to take the bite out of the mustard. 

5. Add cracked pepper, stir and plate. Top with fried leeks and you're done! Enjoy and Happy late Thanksgiving!