In 2015, the Green Bean Casserole celebrated its 60th Anniversary as one of this country’s favorite holiday dinner side dishes. So from where did this piece of Americana originate? Appropriately enough, from the company that provides products that are dinnertime staples in many American homes — the Campbell Soup Company.
The year was 1955, Dorcas Reilly was a staff member in the Home Economics department of the Campbell Soup Company, and she and her team were assigned to create some quick and easy recipes using the company’s products. The inspiration for the now famous recipe came from the two things most Americans always had on hand in the 1950s: green beans and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. The popularity of the dish earned the now-yellowed 8 x 11 original recipe card a place in the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame.
Although there have been many variations on the theme over the years, the Green Bean Casserole hasn’t strayed very far from its roots. French’s Foods, the company that manufactures fried onions, one of the other major ingredients of the dish, has provided some of the versions it has developed in its test kitchens. They are reprinted here with permission:
Deluxe Mushroom Green Bean Casserole
1 (10 oz) pkg. Fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp. Butter
1 (10 ¾ oz) can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
¾ cup Half ‘n’ Half, cream, or milk
1 tbsp. White wine (optional)
6 cups cooked whole green beans
2 cups French’s French Fried Onions
Cook mushrooms in butter in skillet until golden. Mix soup, wine, mushrooms, green beans, and 1 cup of fried onions in a 2-qt baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until hot. Top with remaining fired onions and bake an additional 5 minutes.
Festive Green Bean Casserole
1 (10 ¾) oz can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
¾ cup milk
1 1/3 cups French’s French Fried Onions
4 cups cooked whole green beans
1 cup diced red bell peppers
Mix soup, 2/3 cup fried onions, green beans, and bell peppers in a 1 ½ -qt baking dish. Bake at 350 degree F. for 30 minutes, or until hot. Top with remaining fried onions and bake an additional 5 minutes.
If you want to take your Green bean Casserole uptown, why not try Chef Paul Player’s version? This Executive Chef from the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center uses haricot verts instead of traditional green beans. These are French green beans that are longer and thinner than the American variety. They are extremely tender, and have a rich flavor.
Haricot Verts Casserole with Applewood-Smoked Bacon and Crispy Shallots
1 pound haricots verts
4 ounces applewood-smoked bacon, diced
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced sweet onion
1 cup diced celery
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 cups veal stock
1 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
Crispy Shallots for garnish (See recipe below.)
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add bacon and sauté until halfway cooked. Stir in carrot, onion, celery and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are golden brown. Add veal stock and red wine, stirring to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Sift in flour and stir until smooth. Add haricot verts and simmer until sauce is thick and beans are crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Slowly stir in softened butter until it is fully incorporated and sauce is glossy. Stir in nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Place in a large casserole dish and garnish with crispy shallots.
2 large shallots
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat deep fryer to 275 F. Thinly slice shallots on a bias to create small matchsticks. In a medium bowl, mix flour, Old Bay, paprika and cayenne. Dredge shallot sticks in the flour mixture until evenly coated. Shake off excess flour and place in deep fryer. Cook just until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels, adding salt and pepper while they are still hot.
Whether you’re a traditionalist, or whether you try a newer version, chances are, some form of Green Bean Casserole will have a place of honor on your holiday table. When you and your family sit down to eat it, take a moment to remember that you are about to enjoy a piece of history.