Monday, November 15, 2010

Green Beans with Toasted Almonds & Caramelized Shallots

Serves 8 to 10

Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots & Almonds

3 pounds green beans, stem ends trimmed
1/2 cup sliced almonds, skin on
1/2  stick (4 Tbl) plus 1/4 stick (2 Tbl) butter, divided
8 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tbl fresh thyme, chopped
kosher slat & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

“Blanch & shock” the green beans:  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the green beans and boil, uncovered, until tender, about 4-5 minutes.  Drain in a colander then plunge into a large bowl of ice water.  When cool, drain again in a colander and set aside. 

Boiling Green Beans

Shocking Green Beans in Ice Water 

Toast the almonds: Preheat the oven to 350°F, line a baking pan with parchment paper and spread the slivered almonds across the paper. Toast for five minutes, turn the pan, and continue to toast until you can smell the nice nutty aroma and the color of the nuts has deepened a bit, about 10-15 minutes total.  Remove from the oven and set the almonds aside until needed.

Caramelize the shallots:  Melt 4 Tbl butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan.  Add the sliced shallots.  Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Reduce the heat to medium-low (or even low, depending on the strength of your burner) and cook, stirring frequently for the first 15 minutes, and then only occasionally, about every 15-20 minutes, until the shallots are a lovely golden color, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Once finished, transfer the caramelized shallots to a small bowl and reserve until needed.  (Patience is key here.  And while this does take a lot of time, it happily does not require a lot of work or attention.  Remember, slow and low will give you the best results.  You don’t want to brown the shallots right away, but let them slowly turn golden.  So adjust your stovetop temperature accordingly.)

All of these steps can be completed a day ahead.  The rest can be done just before serving. 

Now, put it all together:  Right when you’re about ready to serve dinner, return the large, 
cleaned and dried sauté pan to the stove top.  Melt the remaining 2 Tbl butter over medium-high heat.  Add the caramelized shallots and the thyme and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are heated though, about 2 minutes.  Add the green beans, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring frequently, until heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the toasted almonds and stir to combine.  Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.