Monday, November 21, 2011

Green Beans in Brown Butter

It’s countdown to Thanksgiving Day, and of course, the Thanksgiving meal.  Thanksgiving can be stressful for all of us, no matter what our role in the festivities: cook or carver, host or guest, traveler or welcome committee.  And I think part of that stress is due to expectations and so-called traditions, especially involving what should be served for dinner.
Pumpkins pretty enough for your Thanksgiving table
My honest feeling is that you should make what you like to eat and what you feel confident preparing.  I’ve been known to make salmon fillets or pork tenderloin.  We’ve eaten pasta with turkey breast.  One year I served chicken and potatoes as the main course and Grillswiths for dessert.  I’ve never cooked a whole stuffed turkey, and I bet I never will.  Besides, my favorite dishes at most meals are the sides.

I adore green beans.  Stir-fried, sautéed, tossed in salads or pickled in a sweet brine.  But I hate the green bean casserole lots of folks serve on Thanksgiving.  So I asked Chef Francesco Benincasa if he would share his Green Beans in Brown Butter recipe.  It reads as follows:

Steam green beans to desired doneness… a shorter time if you prefer crunchier; a longer time if you prefer softer.

Take butter solid and place in a saucepan (not non-stick) until butter solid turns brown.  This usually takes 10-15 minutes on medium heat, depending on how much butter you use.

Strain butter only if butter solids turn black (as opposed to brown).  The brown bits are tasty -- black ones are bitter.

Toss steamed green beans in brown butter and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Our friends Francesco (“Franky”) and Meredith co-own the Sheridan Livery Inn and Restaurant with his parents.  It is housed in a 19th-century stable and carriage livery, in downtown Lexington, Virginia, within walking distance to the very picturesque campuses of Washington and Lee University and VMI.  The Livery is a huge place and includes twelve guest rooms, a full-service restaurant, outdoor dining areas and two banquet rooms.
View from Sheridan Livery dining room
Francesco is the head chef, and he cooks up a huge spread for Thanksgiving.

Sheridan Livery Thanksgiving Buffet
November 24, 2011
Soup & Salad
Butternut Squash Soup
Sheridan Mixed Greens Salad
Pasta Salad
Fruit Salad
 Carving Station
Prime Rib with Horseradish Sauce
Roasted Turkey with Gravy
Buffet Table
Pick and Peel Shrimp
Roasted Pork Loin
Baked Salmon with Olive Tapenade
Green Beans in Brown Butter
Sweet Potato Mash
Mashed Potatoes
Macaroni & Cheese
Bacon, Onion, and Rosemary Stuffing
Cranberry Relish
Dinner Rolls and Butter
Dessert Station
Assorted Cakes and Cookies

So, you can make the Green Beans in Brown Butter for yourself.  Or just let Francesco do it for you.  The Livery is open from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day; reservations are a must!

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