Every year we celebrate my friend Jayme's birthday with French bistro themed meal. Two years ago I attempted duck confit. Two auditions later I had a lot of duck fat and no main course. I punted and planned to make rack of lamb and daupinoise gratin. But what to serve as a vegetable? I got really hung up on this. Artichokes, too messy. Asparagus, uninspired. Brussels sprouts, last years news. Spinach, wrong texture. Broccoli, yawn. Zucchini, bigger yawn. I wanted green beans but not just regular old green beans or even green beans almandine. Wait, green beans almandine, then it popped into my head ‘What about green beans with chestnuts?’ Then it grew ‘What about green beans with chestnuts sauteed in the leftover duck fat?’ It has been a regular visitor to our table ever since. And as one guest said at the end of the birthday dinner 'Morgan, I'm convinced everything should be sauteed in duck fat.' —Summer of Eggplant
green beans, ends trimmed
duck fat, rendered
cooked and peeled chestnuts - sliced (I buy mine in a jar)
Heat a pot of salted water and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile prepare an ice bath. Blanch the green beans in the salted water for 1 minute. Then plunge in the ice bath. Let cool in the ice bath for several minutes. Drain and dry the green beans. This step can be done the night before.
Heat the duck fat in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat until sizzling loudly (about 1 minute). Add the green beans and the chestnuts at the same time. Saute until green beans have taken on a slight char or patina and the chestnuts have caramelized, about 4 minutes. Finish with salt and serve.