Here in Central Texas, we’ve been enjoying Summer since, well, December. Nevertheless, I’m gearing up for it in the kitchen with vim and vigor! Seeing the arrival of haricot verts in my favorite farmer’s market sparked a new sense of, “Omigosh!! I have two weeks to get a six-pack!!” Now, I really had to be honest…who’s checking for a mother of twins to be hot? No one, that’s who. Which is great, because I was about to whip up a dish of my haricot verts with bacon and portobello mushrooms. The only six-pack around here will be of Dr. Peppers!
What is a haricot vert? First, I will tell you what they are not. They are not bears with overgrown coats. That is precisely what my 6 year-old thought I was bringing home from the grocery store the first time she heard it. I mentioned to my husband one day that I saw them in the store earlier in the week. She, consequently, assumed that I was planning to make, “Hairy-coat bears,” to serve alongside the ribeye steaks that evening. My husband texted me while I was in the store asking why our Twinkie was refusing to come out from under her bed. Needless to say, she was relieved that I didn’t drag a grizzly into the kitchen when I returned home.
Cute little misnomers aside, haricot verts (French for green beans) are not the same as a regular green bean. You also can’t intentionally harvest a green bean early in an effort to turn it into a haricot vert. I found that out after a long summer of playing urban gardener. Hey, I never said I was good at growing things. The haricot vert is skinnier, and more pungent than a common green bean. Hence, it won’t yield the same result. That one’s free.
Typically, I prepare them simply. I prefer only blanch and sauté them, instead of fussing around with them too much. This recipe is probably the second most “intense” one I have- my haricot verts casserole being the first. That’s even saying a lot because there’s not much effort involved here! There are two technical terms (blanching and shocking) that may be new to some, but they are quite simple to understand and execute. So much so, in fact, I didn’t even bother to photograph the steps!
In the cookbook, I talked about my nicknames for the Twinks. Obviously, the fact that I’m referring to them as “the Twinks” would indicate that I have, in fact, many nicknames for them; but, that’s neither here nor there. I used to refer to them, lovingly, as my “Portobello” and my “Shiitake” mushrooms.
Obviously, my precious, handsome, little ball of love, son was my portobello because a portobello is a nice, meaty mushroom. It’s short and squat like he once was so many years ago when I could still hold and love and hug him without him saying ewww mom get off of me just stop it will you because he doesn’t care about my feelings and the fact that I was on bedrest with him for 5 months!!!! My portobello is no more. He’s like an enoki now- tall and aloof. My daughter, therefore, was the shiitake because she is beautiful and unique. However, that chick’s got an attitude too, so both of them get on my nerves now.
Bitterness at the rejection of my children aside, portobellos are simply the adult version of a cremini mushroom. No, really, they are older cremini mushrooms that were given a fancy name so people wouldn’t be put off by their maturity. Thanks, marketing execs, for the deliciousness that is portobellos. By the way, the names portobello and portabella are interchangeable.
Bacon is bacon. It needs no further explanation.
Let’s do this!
Haricot Verts with Bacon and Portobello Mushrooms
Yield 6 servings
Crisp, crunchy haricot vets are the sophisticated cousin of the ho-hum green bean. Sautéed with bacon and meaty portobello mushrooms, it's a side that is hearty enough to hold its own.
6 qts water
1lb haricot verts (or thin green beans), rinsed
6 slices bacon, diced
1/4 cup onion, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
8oz portobello mushrooms, washed and dried, the ends of stems sliced off and discarded*
1/4 cup dry white wine (chardonnay or sauv blanc) (or chicken stock)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
*more instructions follow
In a large stockpot, bring the water to a rapid boil. Once the water is boiling, salt it liberally with generous pinch of salt.
Add the green beans and blanch* for three minutes. Directly after adding the green beans to the boiling water, get a very large bowl and fill it halfway with ice and very cold water. Get out a strainer which will be large enough to drain the beans, but small enough to sit inside the bowl of ice water.
Once the beans have cooked for three minutes, drain them and quickly plunge the strainer of drained beans into the ice bath. Make sure all of the green beans are fully submerged in the ice water. This technique called shocking, as it literally shocks the green beans with freezing temperatures. The green beans stop cooking immediately, which is what helps them to retain their vibrant color and crispness.
Drain once more and lay them out to dry on a clean kitchen towel or a few paper towels. I like to line a sheet pan with a kitchen towel and lay the beans in a single layer to pat dry with a paper towel or two.
Heat a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Add the diced bacon, cook the bacon, rendering* the fat, for 3-4 minutes or until it is crisp.
While your bacon is rendering, cut your mushrooms in half (stand the mushroom on its cap and cut in half through the middle of the stem). Turn the halves cut side down, and cut into thirds. Set aside.
Once the bacon has cooked, remove it to a paper-lined plate to drain, using a slotted spoon. Leave the bacon fat in the pan.
Return the pan to the stove and heat over med-high heat. Add the onions and garlic to the bacon fat and sauté for 3 minutes or until translucent.
Add the mushrooms and sauté until they turn golden brown- about 5 minutes. Deglaze* the pan with the wine, making sure to use the spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid has almost completely evaporated.
Add the beans and season to taste with salt, black and red peppers (if using). Take care not to oversalt as the beans were previously cooked in salted water.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
- blanch (or precook) prepares the foods for eating by cooking them partially
- render means to extract the fat from the meat by cooking it over heat.
- deglaze means to use a liquid to remove the stuck food particles from the cooking pan. This method adds a boost of flavor from the cooking liquid and the caramelized pan scrapings.
Pin the recipe so you don’t lose it and check out these mains that will go great with this dish: