Haricots Verts with Fried Shallots
Forget those canned onions for green bean casserole...it's a new era!
Haricots verts are French green beans, the thin and elegant version of conventional string beans. Blanched in heavily salted water, they are perfect as they are. Sautéed with a little butter and bedecked with crispy shallots and fried herbs, they become an improved version of the American holiday classic, the green bean casserole. In classical cuisine, traditionally the tops and bottoms of the beans are trimmed. Today it is not only acceptable but expected to leave the refined tops and trim only the bottoms because they look so refined and beautiful that way. Technique, not torture...because It's Lauren, of Course!
Equipment: cutting board; chef's knife; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; large saucepan or Dutch oven; colander; large sauté pan or wok; fine mesh sieve; slotted spoon or tongs
2 pounds haricots verts, trimmed
2+ tablespoons kosher salt
4 large peeled shallots, thinly sliced crosswise
2 cups avocado or vegetable oil
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8-10 sprigs of fresh herbs (marjoram, thyme, or parsley)
1. First prepare the string beans. Fill a large sauce pan or Dutch oven with cold water and stir in 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Place over high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, add the haricots verts. Cook for 2-3 minutes until bright green and crisp-tender. Immediately empty the pot into a colander in the sink and run cold water over the beans until cool, approximately 30-60 seconds.
ILOC tip: the very best way to "shock" the blanched beans once drained is to submerge them in a large bowl of ice and water. Placing them under cold running water is the next best and likely more practical thing.
2. Now prepare the shallots and herbs. Place the shallots in a large sauté pan and add the oil. Turn the heat to medium-high. Once the oil is shimmering and hot, carefully cook the shallots, stirring and turning as needed, for 5-7 minutes more, or until the shallots are deep golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a fine mesh sieve to drain. Set aside. Fry the herbs for 10-20 seconds until crisped. Set aside on a paper towel to drain.
ILOC tip: manage the heat while the shallots cook, lowering or raising it as needed so that it remains consistently hot without smoking.
3. Next, sauté the string beans. Add 1-2 tablespoons butter to a large sauté pan or wok. Heat over medium-high heat. Once foaming, add the string beans and mix well to coat. Sprinkle with a little more kosher salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until warm.
4. Remove the crisped herbs from their stems. Toss them in the string beans along with most of the crispy shallots, leaving a large pinch of shallots for garnish. Serve immediately.
Makes 8-10 servings.