French Green Beans

french green beans

I make these sauteed French green beans often because they are so simple and I love the taste. Just put the ingredients in a skillet, cover and forget it. Your side dish will be cooked to perfection in less then 30 minutes.

Les Haricots Verts

Did you know that green bean simply refers to the unripe pod of any bean plant? That means a whole host of vegetables could be called green beans. Most people when they refer to French green beans, are thinking of a very skinny, tender, and vibrant colored green bean.

Here in France, green beans are calibrated by their thickness, starting with très fin (less than 6 mm wide) and increasing in thickness to moyen (more then 9 mm wide). In general, the more slender green beans are less starchy and more tender, so I usually make this recipe with très fin green beans.

I just learned about a cooking technique called Frenching a green bean. Now that sounds strange doesn't it? Cut a green bean in half in the vertical plane and you've Frenched it. There is even a little tool that quickly cuts beans vertically, so that you end up with slender slices.

Recipe Notes

Many recipes for sauteeing green beans call for preboiling the beans in salted water, which is considered the best way to cook these vegetables to preserve their color. However, the recipe here is meant for those nights when you don't want any extra fuss. The beans do not stay stay vibrant green, but they still taste wonderful.

This recipe works great with frozen green beans. You can just put them in the pan while they are still frozen and this gives extra time for the shallots to caramelize. If you use fresh green beans, you may need to add some water.

For this recipe, I use a Staub Cookware skillet which guarantees even cooking and can be left alone to do its thing. I can virtually forget about the beans (and have) and they still come out great. If you use a different sort of skillet, you may need to stir the beans more often.

Haricots verts à l'étouffée

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound frozen green beans (the skinnier the better)
  • 2 good sized shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt (French sea salt or another finishing salt will give a superior taste)
  • freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a sturdy skillet on low medium heat. Add the shallots and the beans and cover the skillet tightly.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the beans are cooked as you like them.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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