I know that green bean casserole is synonomous with Thanksgiving, but I usually don't eat it because I'm not a big fan of combining green beans with cream of chicken soup and french fried onions. It's just not my thing. Then I found this recipe on one of my favorite cooking sites, The Pioneer Woman. The recipe was so much different than the original recipe that I knew I had to make it. I first made this recipe for a dinner party a few weeks ago, and it was pretty successful so I made it again for Thanksgiving dinner. I love this recipe because it's creamy and has a slight kick to it. I usually can't eat green beans by themselves, but in this casserole, I can't stop eating them!
Source: The Pioneer Woman
2 pounds Fresh Green Beans, Ends Cut Off
4 slices Bacon, Cut Into 1/4 Inch Pieces
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
½ whole Large Onion, Chopped
4 Tablespoons Butter
4 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
2-½ cups Whole Milk
½ cups Half-and-half
1-½ teaspoon Salt, More To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
⅛ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 jar (4 Ounce) Sliced Pimentoes, Drained (I omitted)
Extra Milk For Thinning If Necessary
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
Cut green beans in half if you like pieces to be a little smaller.
Blanch the green beans: drop them into lightly salted boiling water and allow green beans to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain beans once they’re cool and set aside.
Add bacon pieces to a skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon for two minutes, then add diced onion and garlic and continue cooking for 3 to 5 minutes, or until bacon is done (but not crisp) and onions are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a separate skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into the pan and whisk immediately to evenly mix it into the butter. Cook for a minute or two, then pour in milk and half and half. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, while sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne then add the grated cheddar. Stir while cheese melts. Turn off heat.
Add pimentos to pan, then add bacon/onion mixture. Stir to combine. Pour over green beans and stir gently to combine. Pour into a baking dish and top with panko crumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and panko crumbs are golden.