Make fun of me all you want, but I just had to put this recipe in the book.
It’s been my longtime favorite at holidays (I know I’m not alone here), and it’s what I always bring to any potluck Thanksgiving. Growing up, my mom was like most of yours and, of course, made this classic with Campbell's canned mushroom soup, frozen beans, and Durkee onions … and it was delicious.
I remember when I had just started culinary school in Arizona and my parents came out to visit for Thanksgiving. It was my first time hosting a big holiday meal and I was ready to show off my new Le Cordon Bleu skills. My parents headed to the store to pick up some last-minute items, and my mom asked if she should pick up some cream of mushroom soup. I assured her that I had just learned the basics of the béchamel mother sauce, and how to turn it into the perfect mushroom soup, so I had it covered. About 30 minutes later, in walk my parents with, yes, two cans of mushroom soup. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Let’s hope by now they trust my skills a bit more.
So this recipe is essentially what I made for my parents that holiday to prove to them their tuition money wasn’t going to waste. It’s simple to do, but the addition of maitake and shiitake mushrooms give it a bit of a gourmet boost and the extra earthiness the dish deserves. Feel free to add in other varieties, whatever you come across, and honestly, if you don’t want to do the step of frying the shallots, those Durkee onions have a crisp like no other. I promise not to tell anyone.
Serves 6 to 8
1. To make the soup: In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sweat by cooking until the shallots are translucent, about 5 minutes, being watchful not to brown them. Add the mushrooms and sweat them for 5 more minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the mushrooms. Whisk in the milk and continue to whisk for a minute or two to avoid lumps. Over medium heat, slowly bring the mixture to a boil, whisking often. Simmer until the thickness of canned mushroom soup, about 10 minutes. Season with the sambal, salt, and pepper. (A thick soup is best for the casserole; however, if becomes too thick, thin with additional milk).
2. To make the casserole: In a large sauté pan over high heat, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic and sauté until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Add the haricots verts and blanch by boiling them until bright green and barely tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer the beans to an ice bath. (The beans will continue to cook in the casserole.) Drain and lay them on paper towels to remove excess water.
4. In a large bowl, combine the haricots verts, mushrooms, and soup base. Mix well and transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake, covered with foil, until heated through, about 35 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, make the crispy shallots: Heat the oil in a fryer or heavy-bottomed pan with high sides to 375°F.
6. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and cornstarch. Toss the shallots in the mixture, then shake well in a sieve to remove excess flour. Add half of the shallots to the fryer and move them around with tongs while frying to avoid clumping. When just light brown, strain them out and drain on paper towels, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining shallots.
7. Top the casserole with the crispy shallots and serve.
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