Hello, November! It’s the month of gratitude, and while we’re grateful for so many things, we’re especially grateful that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Delicious food and quality time with great company – what could be better? The hardest part of the day is preparing the menu. You’ve got the turkey, you baked the pie; but what about sides? Here’s a side so delicious, you may just forget about the turkey!
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 pounds fresh green beans, ends cut off
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 whole large onion, chopped
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk, plus extra for thinning if needed
1/2 cup half-and-half
Freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
1 cup of Panko bread crumbs
Go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Start by cutting the green beans in half. Drop them into lightly salted boiling water and allow them to cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain the beans once they’re cool and set them aside.
Next, add the bacon pieces to a skillet over medium heat. Cook it for about 2 minutes. Then, add the peppers, garlic and onions. Continue cooking until the bacon is done – not too crisp! – and the onions are golden brown. This will take about 3-5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside.
In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and whisk immediately to evenly mix it into the butter. Cook for a couple of minutes and then pour in the milk and half-and-half. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, while the sauce thickens (about 2 minutes). Add 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, some black pepper and the cayenne. Then, add the grated cheese. Stir while the cheese melts and then turn off the heat.
Add the bacon mixture and the green beans and stir gently to combine. Pour into a baking dish and top with Panko breadcrumbs. Bake it for about 30 minutes until the sauce is bubbly, and the panko is golden.
There you have it – the ultimate comfort food! Serve it in your favorite Thanksgiving dish and watch it bring instant delight to all of your guests.