Yes, you can substitute vegetable stock for the chicken (I've used mushroom broth to great effect) or even straight water in a pinch. And since finding dainty haricots verts isn't a sure thing, you can use this technique with whatever variety and size of green beans you find at the market or dangling in your garden. All will benefit from skipping the water bath and getting direct access to substances that will add flavor, rather than sap it. Once you get this down, you can even adventure off with other combinations—chunks of ginger and a finish of lime zest; a few shakes of fish sauce, brown sugar, and that rosé you're drinking; or olive oil, fresh herbs, and anchovy. Adapted slightly from Happy in the Kitchen (Artisan, 2006). —Genius Recipes
Combine the haricots verts, butter, chicken stock, and garlic cloves in a large sauté pan or small flameproof casserole. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cover the pot, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring gently from time to time and adjusting the heat as necessary to cook at a steady simmer. The beans should be cooked through but not mushy. Serve immediately, sprinkled with Parmesan, if desired.