When it comes to vegetables, I find myself oscillating between tradition (oh, hello soggy vegetables swimming in grease and spices) and modernity (steamed, then tossed with garlic infused oil or vinaigrette). Even though I felt pretty good about myself cooking it until just cooked through, and going easy with the fat, I would always second guess myself when I’d go to my mom’s and find myself thoroughly enjoying her sides. Until I recently read about braising vegetables in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The idea is, you combine everything in a pot or saute pan: vegetable, fat, cooking liquid, seasonings, and you cook it through until the liquid evaporates and the veggies just finish cooking in the fat. PERFECT. Once you have the technique down, the possibilities are endless! Of course it takes some trial and error with each vegetable. They vary in cooking times, moisture levels, and sizes (of course it’s up to you how big or small to make your pieces). A few tips to recall are:
- Root vegetables take longer to cook. Account for that.
- I added a few smashed garlic cloves to the pot. You can feel free to add any seasonings you like with your vegetables: soy sauce, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, garam masala, lemon zest whatever!
- When trimming the beans, take a small paring knife, cut just below the woody stem and pull down along the rib of the bean. That way you take off some of the fibrous part that runs along the middle. You can continue this motion when cutting the beans into thirds.
Slivered almonds also go well green beans. The only words of caution I have are stay away from chicken or vegetable stocks for this dish. The flavors concentrate and it just overpowers the vegetable (speaking from experience). Hope this helps for your upcoming holiday (or weeknight!) cooking.
- 1 lb green beans, trimmed, cut into thirds
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 tbsp butter
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper (plus more to taste
- Combine all the ingredients in a large saute pan with a lid. Turn heat up to medium high and cook for about 5 minutes, covered. After 5 minutes, check for seasoning and consistency. If you like your beans with a bite, turn off the heat. If you like them tender (like I do), let it cook for an additional 2 minutes.