One of Big Food’s tried-and-true strategies to drive sales is to create recipes that call for use of their products. Most larger food companies have a team of home economists designing these recipes. Sometimes contests like The Pillsbury Bake-Off ask consumers to share recipes.
These days even bloggers are getting in on the action by designing “sponsored” recipes. But every so often one of these recipes literally becomes so profitable it’s what industry insiders call a “signature recipe.”
A “signature recipe” is a one that becomes so popular that it comes to define a product and is a significant source of ongoing sales. While there are lots of signature recipe examples, probably one of the most successful ones of all time might be making an appearance on a Thanksgiving table near you. Yep, the classic Green Bean Casserole.
Developed by Dorcas Reilly and a team of Campbell’s Food Company home economists, Green Bean Casserole was introduced in 1955. Based on the principle of creating an easy recipe made with a few, common household ingredients, this classic holiday side dish was born.
But as we reflect on what’s happened over the past 60 years, how good should we feel about this signature recipe? While many of us still appreciate the convenience of processed foods, it’s hard not to be concerned with some of the questionable ingredients in condensed soup. And probably equally as scary are those cans of fried onions that are designed to sit on store shelves for TWO YEARS (thanks to TBHQ, an additive that’s been linked to increased incidence of tumors in rats).
So I’ve decided it’s time to change my family’s holiday traditions, and I’ve re-written this classic recipe. In my version I kick the condensed soup can to the curb and use my own, homemade cream of mushroom soup. To top things off, I also fry up some fresh French Fried onions (see the recipe below). Yes, it does take a little more effort, but it really isn’t hard at all.
Without further adieu, here’s the recipe. I hope you and your family enjoy it!
A REAL Food Version of the Classic Green Bean Casserole
- 4 cups cooked fresh or frozen green beans
- 1 1/3 cups homemade cream of mushroom condensed soup
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Homemade French Fried Onions recipe below
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cook green bean in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
- Drain and cool immediately in cold water.
- Mix together green beans, homemade condensed soup, ½ cup milk, and soy sauce.
- Spread half of the green bean mixture into the bottom of a 1 ½ quart baking dish.
- Take approximately 1/2 cup of the French fried onions and cover the green beans. Then take the remaining green bean mixture and cover the French fried onions.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, uncovered in a 350F oven. Casserole should be bubbling.
- Top with the remaining French fried onions and bake for 5 more minutes until onions are golden brown.
- Remove from oven and serve!
Homemade French Fried Onions
- 2 medium onions halved and thinly sliced
- ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 tablespoon panko or plain breadcrumbs I prefer panko and here’s a link to a great option
- ½ teaspoon salt
- a couple grinds of fresh pepper
- 10 tablespoons coconut oil
- Mix flour, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.
- Dredge onions in flour mixture
- In a 10-inch skillet (preferably cast-iron) add the coconut oil.
- Heat the oil at medium high. Oil is ready if it hisses when a drop of water touches it.
- Fry the onions a handful at a time, spreading them out, trying to keep them covered in oil.
- Remove when lightly brown (they brown more when they cook on the casserole) and set them to drain on a paper towel.
- Repeat this until all the onions are fried, adding additional oil if necessary.
- Set aside until the casserole is ready to assemble.
- I use one of Crate and Barrel’s everyday casserole dishes to cook up my Green Bean Casserole recipe.
- A cast-iron skillet makes frying up these onions easy. Here’s the 10-inch Lodge skillet I use.
- A good quality kitchen spider strainer really helps scooping the fried onions out of the sizzling oil.