My grandmother never knew I was the culprit; she never caught me red-handed, snitching the canned French-fried onions off the top of the green-bean bake she made every Thanksgiving. But every year, most of those crisp onions disappeared before anyone began filling a plate from the buffet table. That was some thirty-five years ago. Now that I'm at the helm when it comes to cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I've updated that classic recipe.
I still love crisp onions, green beans have always been a favorite vegetable, and the combination is a natural. So, in my pursuit of using fresh vegetables whenever possible, I offer this modern version of the green-bean bake. Keep your eye on the buffet table, though, because these shallot crisps are mighty good.
Set a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels next to the stove. Heat the vegetable oil in a 6-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Using a slotted spoon, add half of the shallots to the oil.
Fry until they are crisp and turn a dark golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining shallots. Set aside at room temperature until ready to garnish the beans. The shallot crisps can be made several hours ahead.
Heat a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil, swirl to coat the pan, and then add the green beans. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the beans are bright green and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the beans to a warmed serving bowl and garnish with the shallot crisps. Serve immediately.
Test the temperature of the oil by adding 1 slice of shallot to the hot oil. If the oil begins to bubble and sizzle without splattering, and the shallot turns golden, then the oil is ready.
Diane Morgan, The Thanksgiving Table (Chronicle Books, 2001).
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