September 23, 2003

How not to cook green beans

Made dinner this weekend and part of it were some nice tiny French Beans that I'd gotten. I was going to cook them in my normal method, but that involves getting the kitchen way too hot -- and the weather here has decided to move back into summer for some reason.

Instead, I wrapped the beans in a foil packet with some chopped tomatoes from the garden, salt, pepper, and a dash of olive oil. Cooked it on the grill along side the steaks. This method insures high acid content during the cooking, an inabilty to check when they are done, and thus a nice brown/gray color to the beans -- violating every one of the green vegetable cooking rules.

Which are as follows:
- green vegetables should be cooked in a low acid environment (ie, large pot of boiling water)
- since vegetables themselves have acid in them, you need to cook them in something that allows that acid to move away (ie, an open container)
- adding additional acid (ie, tomatoes) is a bad idea
- adding a buffer agent (ie, salt) is a good one
- vegetables need to be cooked until they no longer have a raw taste, but need not be cooked any longer

Here's my normal method:
- blanch beans in a large pot (around 4 quarts) of boiling water, which has been heavily salted
- cook until they taste cooked, or just under that point
- shock in ice bath until completely cool, then drain very well right away
- at this point, they can sit until you are ready to plate and finish your dish
- sautee in butter, salt and pepper just to re-heat
- a dash of minced shallots can also be added at this stage

Posted by dowdy at September 23, 2003 04:45 AM