How To: Make Green Beans In Less Than Six Hours
Perhaps you’ve heard: today is Thanksgiving, that day when everybody spends hours upon hours cooking so that everybody they love can enjoy a half-hour meal before retiring to the nearest fainting couch to die of turkey poisoning. In the spirit of possibly shaving a few minutes out of that laborious process, I offer you the following green beans recipe.
Step One: Ignore Grandma
Somehow, there is a generation of Americans that has gotten it into their heads that properly cooked green beans should take as long as it does for a single sailor to circumnavigate the globe. That often means putting a hamhock into boiling water, adding beans, and turning everything off weeks later, long after the beans have turned to mush. The appeal, I suppose, is that you can start your green beans approximately six months before Thanksgiving itself. But seriously, this is insane. Green beans can and should be prepared much, much more quickly.
Step Two: Get A Good Skillet With A Lid, Some Green Beans, and Your Oily Liquid Of Choice
For those who are vegetarians, I recommend your favorite flavorful oil. For those who aren’t, I recommend bacon. I used to make this with either salt pork or fatback but in my experience, bacon simultaneously manages to taste better while being more appealing to everybody else eating with you. (A word of warning: do not use “healthy” bacons like turkey bacon. You will not end up with enough liquid fat.)
Step Three: Get Your Oily Liquid Of Choice HOT
No matter what oily liquid of choice you’re using, you want it to be the hot. This means getting it that way. If you’re just using your preferred oil, put it in a hot pan until it crackles. If you’re teasing the liquid out of a meat, you’re going to want to cook whatever you’ve chosen until crispy. It will also help to dice the meat beforehand (we’re going to use it later). After crispiness has been achieved, remove the meat from the pan.
Step Four: Add Beans
After your oily liquid of choice is hot, add the beans. This is going to be noisy. You’re going to stir the beans around the pan until they’re coated in whatever you’ve got in there. This is going to take three to four minutes.
Step Five: Add Water and Cover
Add a quarter cup (or a bit more) of hot water to your pan. This is going to be incredibly loud, as it will turn to steam immediately. Be wary of that. Ideally, hold the cup of water in one hand and a lid in the other. Slam the lid down as soon as all the water is in, then allow it to cook for three to four minutes.
Step Six: Uncover
Take the lid off the beans. They will be a bright green color. There should be a hint of water left in the bottom of the pan or, perhaps, more than a hint, depending upon how much you added at the outset. Let them cook uncovered for another four minutes. Taste. Are they perfect? Probably. But if they’re not, let them cook for a few more minutes, adding a bit more water if the bottom of the pan is dry.
Step Seven: Dress And Serve
Remove the beans from the pan and add pepper and salt (although not too much, especially if you’ve used bacon or salt-pork or bacon). If you’ve used bacon, take the crisped pieces you removed from the pan and sprinkle them over the top. Serve and enjoy.
Hopefully this will help you avoid eating green bean puree and while I’m at it, hopefully you’ll all have a Happy Thanksgiving.