Thursday, November 17, 2011

viable sides

Thanksgiving is one week from today and I am beside myself with excitement! At some point I will have to transform that giddiness into motivation to complete my schoolwork, but we won't get into that right now.

Let's focus on this instead:
Crispy Duck Breast with Green Bean Casserole & Leeky Potatoes

The first time I made green bean casserole was at the request of my sister-in-law last Thanksgiving; tonight's run was my second re-creation. There was one major flaw this time [and it may have been present last year but she didn't say anything, Bless her heart], and that was I had assumed the green beans would cook themselves while in the oven, however such was not the case so I am advising you to blanch the green beans once you have the cream of mushroom soup simmering and thickening on the stovetop. 

Green Bean Casserole
*this recipe can be made Pareve by substituting the milk with vegetable stock, and omitting the Parmesan cheese.

You will need:
1 lb plus 1 handful green beans, stems removed. Blanched, and cut into thirds
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Cups sliced Mushrooms [I used a handful of Shiitakes, a handful of White Button, and 2 handfuls of Crimini]
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 medium Onion, small dice
2 ribs of Celery, sliced thin
1 sprig of fresh Rosemary
5 sprigs of fresh Thyme, or 1/4 tsp dried Thyme
2 dried Bay Leaves
3 Tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
1/3 Cup + 1 tsp light Buckwheat Flour
2 Cups 1% Milk
1 Cup unsalted or Low-Sodium Vegetable or Chicken Stock
Kosher Salt & cracked Black Pepper, as needed

For the Crunchy Topping:
1 Cup Panko Bread crumbs + 1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese, mixed
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1/3 Cup light Buckwheat Flour
1 Tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
small pinch Dried Thyme
dash of Turmeric
1.25 Cups Olive Oil, for frying

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Heat 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the celery, thyme, bay leaves & a pinch of salt. Once the celery is softened add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent.

3. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt, and stir to incorporate with the other ingredients. Now add the chopped garlic, and cover the pot with a lid to allow the mushrooms to cook down and release their liquids, stirring occasionally [about 4 minutes].

4. Once the mushrooms are soft and there is a bit of natural broth in the bottom of the pot, add the soy sauce and then stir in the buckwheat flour. Increase the heat to high and whisk in 2 Cups of Milk and 1 Cup of Stock, be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to alleviate any lumps and prevent scorching. Whisk vigorously for 3 minutes. 

5. Bring the soup to a boil, being sure to whisk every couple of minutes, and then reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer for 25 minutes, or until thickened, whisking occasionally.

While the soup is simmering, start the crunchy topping:
1- In a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat [about 7/10].
2- While the oil is heating, coat the onions with the turmeric, thyme and soy sauce, then toss in the  buckwheat flour.

3- After about 5 minutes, the oil should be ready. Test it by dipping the tip of a piece of floured onion in it; if it doesn't begin to bubble and sizzle, allow the oil to heat for another minute and test it again.

4- Working in small batches, so as not to drop the temperature of the oil, begin to fry your onion strips until golden [about 3-4 minutes per batch]. Use a slotted spoon or spider to fish the onions out of the oil and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

6. Once the soup has thickened, remove the bay leaves and any thyme stems and then fold in the green beans. Then pour into an 8x8 baking dish and top with the fried onions and panko/parmesan bread crumb mixture. 
Dip a spoon in the soup; draw a line with your finger and if it stays put, the soup is thick enough.

7. Transfer to your pre-heated oven and cook until golden brown and bubbly.

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