Give Green Bean Casserole A Big Flavor Boost By Charring The Main Ingredient

Green bean casserole is a classic Thanksgiving side dish that isn't just delicious but also incredibly easy to make. Old-school recipes tend to use premade products, making the assembly a matter of opening a few cans, dumping everything into a casserole dish, and baking. As cooking trends have headed in the direction of favoring fresh, whole ingredients, canned green beans have gone out of style. Modern recipes tend to use frozen, blanched green beans for a fresher taste and texture. However, their flavor takes a backseat to the umami richness of cream of mushroom soup.

If you want your green beans to take center stage, charring them will provide a show-stopping texture and flavor that will bring your green bean casserole to the next level. Charred green beans enhance the underlying vegetal flavor while also tacking on a caramelized richness and a bitter finish from those wonderfully blistered edges. Charring also transforms their texture from soft and tender to chewy and slightly crunchy.

Charring fresh green beans will provide the purest, freshest taste for a more sophisticated scratch-made casserole. French-cut green beans are sold in bags, saving you the trouble of trimming them. That said, you can also char frozen green beans for an even more streamlined preparation.

Methods for charring green beans

The best part about charing green beans is that you get a major flavor boost without tacking on extra time to the original recipe. Before incorporating them into a green bean casserole, both fresh and frozen green beans require a quick blanching, and charing them takes the same amount of time. You can use the oven or the stovetop to char green beans, and it'll take all of about five minutes.

For the oven, the quickest way to char green beans, frozen or fresh, is to throw them on a baking sheet, toss them in a few tablespoons of oil, and place them under the broiler. Since you'll be using the oven to bake your green bean casserole, you can kill two birds with one stone by broiling the green beans for five minutes, then turning the heat down to the baking temperature the casserole recipe requires.

You can also char green beans on the stovetop by searing them in hot oil in a non-stick or cast iron skillet. If you're making other components from scratch, like the creamy mushroom topping, then the stovetop method is just as convenient. Both methods require you to flip or turn the green beans halfway through the cooking process to get an even char. Once the green beans are charred, you'll incorporate them into the casserole using the same steps as their blanched or boiled counterparts.