Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Southern-Style Green Beans – Slow Beans for Fast Times

One of the sadder side effects of the American culinary renaissance we’ve enjoyed over the last thirty or forty years, has been the chronic under-cooking of green vegetables. Sure, there was a time when we cooked everything too long, but now, if it’s not bright green and still crispy, it’s considered ruined.

That’s why every once and a while you have to enjoy something like these slow-cooked, southern-style green beans. These beans are cooked forever in a bacon-spiked, aromatic broth, and when they’re finally done, you’re almost shocked at how good they are. It seems so wrong, yet tastes so right.

I think two hours is perfect, but if your beans are fatter/thinner, you’ll have to adjust the time. What you’re looking for is something that literally melts in your mouth. Vibrant, quickly blanched green beans are many things, but “melt in your mouth” isn’t one of them. I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 portions:
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 handful sliced bacon (6 oz)
1 sliced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato sauce
3 cups chicken broth
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste

View the complete recipe

38 comments:

cookinmom said...

This will be a nice change up from the regular beans from the garden. I have some pole beans and all the other ingredients (I love red pepper so may add for flavor and color). So, to me, that's a sign that I gotta' try um'. Will letcha' know! Tks chef!

Mark Anderson said...

Mother-in-law from Missouri used to make this. We called it "all day beans," and it was on the table at every special dinner.

Marijane said...

I know these will be delicious! This is the way my Grandmother and Mom made them. Grandma lived on a farm in Illinois all her life and always had a lot of green beans to can and cook up. The only difference was the tomato was missing. I love a little tomato in almost anything, so can't wait to give this a try! Thanks.

Spyce said...

Finally, a chef publicly exposes the myth about green beans! My family has southern roots, and we've always cooked our green beans until they are melt in your mouth tender, and we traditionally cook the beans with neck bones instead of bacon.

I've never added a tomato base to mine. Instead of that, I add cubed or quartered potatoes when the beans are about done and a little thyme. Delicious! I will have to try it with the tomato.

blog62Admin said...

I love this demo. I was laughing all my viewing time, because this type of cooking was done by my mom when we were growing up in a city abundant with this type of beans... aptly called "Baguio" beans, it is where they grow it in the Philippines. My mom was not a "southerner", actually she was from the North of the Phil., but, I wonder where she learned how to cook this... THX again Chef John for bringing back memories... I will cook this today.. I know the ingredients by heart !!!

Eliza said...

Been watching your videos for years now and always wandered why you didn't cook your green beans longer with some tomato since its one of the best recipes out there!! Skip the bacon and add some parsley and you have one of the best traditional Greek dishes. :)

P.s. You can easily substitute for peas or gumbo, works just as great!

Vicente said...

Chef John,
Cooking them in a pressure cooker affects the result(for shorter time period obviously)? I mean, texture and flavour speaking...
Thanks :)

Trigger said...

For us, Southern Green Beans always have a splash of vinegar in there too (about 1T for 2lbs)...everything is basically the same! Yummy!

Chef John said...

Sorry, but never tried in a slow cooker before.

Blue Arc said...

My Grandma used to plant a bean called a Kentucky Half Runner. You had to string them. Man they were good. We always cooked the beans long. She didn't use garlic as I think people from the South back then didn't know what to do with it. No one used it. Seasoning was salt and pepper. Thing is...if you got the salt and pepper just right...it was going to taste good. No tomato sauce either. She add new potatoes about the last half hour. She had a magic skillet she cooked cornbread in. Man I miss her.

Chef John said...

I sometimes use vinegar, but the tomato kind of does the same thing here, and I think I prefer it.

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Greetings Chef!

I'll has 'ya knows 'dat my finicky lady-friend will be most delighted to try these green beans. And I'll also has 'ya knows 'dat she be 'da first to exclaim, "Pork-fat RULES Baby!" while gulpin' down yet another glass of chardonnay.

Nevertheless I'll be sure to sprinkle some feta cheese on my green beans cause I can. :) Thanks! You're 'da best!

Phuong Luu said...

This was my attempt at them. You were right, they were delicious! By the way, my dad came into the kitchen twice to tell me that I was overcooking my green beans. Apparently he needs to watch your videos.

http://instagram.com/p/cdCjxyQQkR/

dz.m.ziv said...

Interestingly enough... my Moroccan family makes these (minus the bacon). I generally prefer cooking them less, but this is nice every once in a while

halpwr said...

I know there's no substitute for bacon, but maybe I can try replacing bacon with fatty pastrami?

Megan Perks said...

Hi chef John. I really want to make pie with your pie dough recipe but I don't have a food processor to make it with. Is there any thing else I can use instead of a food processor?

Megan Perks said...

Hi chef John. I really want to make your pie dough recipe but I don't have a food processor to make it with. Is there any thing else I can make it with instead of a food processor?

Chef John said...

You can use a regular wire pastry cutter.

philogaia said...

A year of two ago I found a cooking vid by a southern woman doing green beans like this for 45 minutes in a pressure cooker. I thought she was nuts.

Now I see that perhaps she was not. I've given up starch and as such am always on the lookout for more ways to cook vegetables that might provide a similar comfort that potatoes used to (one can only eat so much cauliflower.) This is looking promising, to the point that I'm rather sorry I didn't plant green beans this year.

And I might just try the pressure cooker. Looks like the cooking time is about as precise as making a pot roast, in other words...not.

Deborah Warner said...

Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I grew up having these beans every summer when we visited my Grandmom in Georgia. Needless to say, I don't run into this item in LA restaurants. And I've never been able to get it right at home. I wasn't doing what you did in your recipe. I can't wait to try it!

Sandy said...

Chef John, I think you may be on to something. I've always hated that weird squeaky feeling that undercooked green beans make on your teeth. I've also wondered why the only green beans I've ever liked were the soft, extra-garlicky ones they serve at my work cafeteria. It's the level of cooked-ness. I'm going to try these.

Deborah Warner said...

Okay, my beans are done and fabulous! They taste just like the ones my Georgia born Grandmom made. Kudos! Now, I'm about to put that million dollar chicken in the oven!

Vincent said...

I made this for a barbecue a few days ago and everyone loved them (although I got plenty of "Two hours? Are you insane?" looks initially).

Tassilo von Parseval said...

This humble dish turned out to be quite fantastic! I made one modification since I wanted this as a main rather than a side dish: I added a couple of russet potatoes cut into large chunks to it, 40 or so minutes before the end of cooking time. This also thickened up the sauce a tiny bit and I was rather pleased.

The second time I made it, I used it as a side with your macaroni and cheese. For some reason I neither had tomato sauce, puree nor paste available. So I used ketchup instead which turned out to be surprisingly good. It was a tad too sweet but otherwise very rich. I reckon half tomato sauce, half tomato ketchup might just be perfect.

Either way, it's a great recipe!

Denee Sheffield said...

This is the only way I cook green beans! Love them! Never used the tomato or cayenne with it but I'll have to try it!

Chewy2 said...

Making these right now with beans, onions, and tomato fresh from our garden. Can't wait, it looks fabulous so far!

I just love these videos, love watching it done vs a written recipe - I keep the ipad right on the counter for quick review while cooking, so easy and I love your sense of humor!

I have shared this site with all my friends and family. We all love it!

Chef John said...

Thank you!!! :)

Gerry Graham said...

Hi Chef, I've never cooked with fresh green beans before. I remember as a kid, my mom and g-ma would trim the ends and remove a string? Is that right? That was 50 years ago. Do you still have to do that? I have a very important family dinner coming up, and this would be a perfect side... if I get it right. Thanks Chef John!

Chef John said...

There are some varieties of beans that you have to pull the string off of, but the green beans I usually see don't require that. Cook one to test and you'll know. Enjoy!

Gerry Graham said...

Chef John, these were fantastic. Thanks so much.

Unknown said...

Made these tonight. They were excellent! Thank you for the recipe Chef John.

Unknown said...

I'm going to make beans for Thanksgiving; this recipe reminds me of my grandmother and mother. I'm cooking 4 lbs and adding potatoes but don't have pots that large. Can I cook beans until the tender stage, remove from pot add potatoes (partially cooked -flavored w/crab boil)? Thank you for such a great recipe
Senorita Bonita

Kisha said...

I made two versions of this for Thanksgiving - one with the bacon, which was phenomenal and ended with an empty pot, and one without bacon/ with olive oil, substituting ketchup for tomato sauce.the vegetarian one was terrific, but bacon trumps olive oil every time. Thanks for this! Now my absolute favorite way to cook green beans.

Unknown said...

I'm always curious about a new green bean recipe, and yours sounds good, but I wind up sticking to my Tenneseean great-grandmother's recipe. She was born in 1867 and raised my mom, born in 1917. I didn't learn from great-grandmother, but mom was a good teacher...

She turned her beans in hot bacon fat until they turned bright green, then barely covered them with boiling water. Halved or quartered onions were added, as well as bacon, smoked neck bones or my favorite...ham hocks. Salt and pepper, and maybe some chicken stock, potatoes near the end, but never tomato or garlic.

Of course, cornbread baked in the black skillet with butter is the only accompaniment...YUMM!

No matter how many are prepared, they always disappear the first or second day!

I really enjoy your blog and videos. Keep it up.

Greg said...

Oh my, even better then my Grandmother's back in the fifties. I'll be adding this to all my special occasion recipes.

cookinmom said...

Made these once before and they were excellent! I have beens that I cut in half...will they still work?

Amber said...

Mmmm, love these and want to eat them every day. I left out the bacon to make them vegetarian and used a tomato instead of the tomato paste. They remind me of the glory green beans that come in a can. Nice to know I can make them myself from now on!

GabeNeo said...

Not being a slave to conventional wisdom... That my friend Chef John, is wisdom in itself! Love it when a good plan comes together... as Hannibal from the A Team always said.