The most recent issue of Martha Stewart’s Food magazine contains an abomination: a recipe for Green Bean Casserole in which all of the components are made from scratch. Shallots are hand-breaded and pan-fried. Mushrooms are seasoned and sauteed in cream. Ridiculous!
My mom and I got into a heated debate over the legitimacy of this recipe. Mom thought it might be good; I conceded that it might. However, this recipe takes a dish that was designed to be extraordinarily simple and makes it incredibly complicated!
I say don’t fix what ain’t broke. Green Bean Casserole was created in the 1950s during an era of canned convenience food. It has survived as a traditional Thanksgiving side dish not only because of its simplicity, but because it happens to be delicious.
“Deemed the ‘mother of comfort food,’Dorcas Reilly led the team that created the Green Bean Casserole in 1955, while working as a staff member in the Home Economics department of the Campbell Soup Company.
…She says the inspiration for the Green Bean Casserole was to create a quick and easy recipe around two things most Americans always had on hand in the 1950s: green beans and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. Like all great recipes, the casserole requires minimal number of ingredients (just five), doesn’t take much time, and can be customized to fit a wide range of tastes.
In 2002, Mrs. Reilly appeared at the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame to donate the original copy of the recipe to the museum. The now-yellowed 8 x 11 recipe card takes its place alongside Enrico Fermi’s invention of the first controlled nuclear reactor and Thomas Alva Edison’s two greatest hits: the light bulb and the phonograph.”
(Editor’s Note: I can find no evidence that this recipe card is actually in the Inventors Hall of Fame.)
This Thanksgiving, reenact a tiny bit of American history, and make the classic Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole.
from Campbell’s Kitchen
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular 98% Fat Free)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Dash ground black pepper
4 cups cooked cut green beans
1 1/3 cups French’s® French Fried Onions
1. Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.
2. Bake at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining onions.
3. Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.
Update 12-18-2013: a few updates! Dorcas Reilly’s Alma Mater has created a scholarship in her name. Campbells Soup sells approximately $20 million dollars worth of Cream of Mushroom soup during the holidays. Reilly “… always keeps the ingredients for the casserole on hand in her Haddonfield home just in case someone asks her to whip one up. This Thanksgiving, her family will get a new version — with carrots.” (source)