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Author Notes: Green Beans. My history with green beans goes back much farther than most vegetables because my great grandmother always served fresh green beans at her Sunday lunches and I very rarely ate them, simply out of the "I-will-not-eat-any-vegetable"-protest I carried on well into my teens. Of course, I would be forced to eat them every once and awhile, and my great grandmother in all of her Kentucky glory would usually smother them in some kind of cream-like concoction (which almost always began with the word "Campbell's") and turn them into a green bean casserole. Not being one for vegetable casseroles these days, I turned to green beans one day when I literally had nothing else in my freezer but felt I needed some kind of "green" to go along with my pot roast and potatoes. Growing up with fresh green beans, I feel slightly guilty now cooking only with frozen green beans but what I like so much about the frozen ones is how the ice around them turns into just the right amount of water which prevents them from over-cooking and drying out. Aside from that, there's not a lot of interesting information to add other than - don't forget the brown sugar in this recipe. I don't quite understand it, but for whatever reason, brown sugar with green beans fried on the stove top tastes absolutely wonderful. I like the combination of sweet and spicy so I mix it up by adding red chili pepper flakes or sriracha sauce (use sparingly as this sauce is quite hot). What's great about this recipe is that you can be very experimental with it and it cooks really fast. I have never measured any of my ingredients. I always grab a couple handfuls of green beans, and from there I eyeball everything else. I know that I go in for 2 half handfuls of brown sugar, which I sprinkle around because it always cooks down, and as for everything else, it really is just a "dash of this" and a "dash of that." The whole thing should take no more than 5-7 minutes. —TShick
- 2 handfuls Frozen Green Beans (Trader Joe's French Green Beans are really nice)
- 1-2 dashes Brown Sugar
- 2 tablespoons White Wine
- 3/4 cup Black Forest Ham, Cut into small pieces (A honey flavor is nice too)
- 1 tablespoon Minced Garlic
- 1 dash Pepper
- 1 dash Kosher Salt
- 1 tablespoon Red Chili Pepper Flakes
- 1 teaspoon Butter (or less depending on whether you want a really greased pan)
- Take your green beans out of the freezer when you're ready to start cooking if you chose to use frozen green beans. This will allow them to thaw slightly. If you're using fresh green beans, wash them and let them sit in a bowl with a tiny bit of water in them. Make sure they're not dried completely. If you haven't already cut up your ham, do so now. Fresh ham is probably more proper but I used the Applegate Farms Organic Black Forest Ham you can buy at the market sliced up. I took two slices and cut them into small squares.
- Throw your butter in a frying pan over a medium heat (the whole recipe should be cooked over a medium heat). Add the minced garlic to the butter once it starts melting down. Add you ham and stir it around for 1-2 minutes letting it brown slightly. It will pick up some of the garlic butter flavor.
- Toss in your two handfuls of green beans so they infuse in the garlic, butter, and ham. The water should begin to cook down immediately. If the beans are frozen, stir them around for at least 2-3 minutes before adding other ingredients to allow them to thaw out completely. You'll notice their color will quickly become a brighter green. If not frozen, be sure to let everything infuse for a few moments.
- Add your brown sugar. I usually just reach my hand into the bag and sprinkle out enough so that it sparingly covers the green beans. Continue mixing. The sugar won't caramelize but it will give the beans a nice sweet flavor. I add my dash of salt and pepper now.
- Add the white wine. I also never measure the amount because I usually just put my thumb over the lid of the bottle and tip what would most likely be 1-2 tablespoons. It shouldn't cover the bottom of the pan but it adds the last bit of liquid needed to make the green beans juicy.
- Finally stir everything for a few moments (about a minute or so) and top with red chili flakes. I like spicy green beans so I go for a tablespoon but if you prefer medium spicy go for just a pinch or two. And Serve!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe for Beans