May 2005: "Can't say I've ever made a 'sauce' before, you know, the la-di-da sauces in French cooking. Tonight's first-ever attempt yielded less than perfect results but I won't be intimidated again -- I think this Florence Fabricant recipe is forgiving. And delicious. And flexible. My mistake was focus, to be precise, failure to focus. Imagine a stack of dominoes collapsing. I started cooking during the next-to-last episode of the enigmatic Lost. While the castaways struggled, the white wine/shallots/garlic burned. When it ended, I started over. But short on white wine, I resorted to part white / part (decidedly pink) pinotage which likely affected flavor and noticeably affected color. Rules for the next attempt. Stay in the kitchen. Pay attention to the pot. Revel in the result."
August 2007: I tackled this sauce again and found it easy if slightly fussy. The good news is that the sauce can be made ahead of time and can be done in a thick version (like the one pictured) for dipping or a thin version for drizzling. I also used fresh Romano green beans, which are gorgeous. And honestly if you're making a sauce like this, a fair amount of trouble, go to the extra 'trouble' of fresh beans.
FRENCH GREEN BEANS with LEMON-GARLIC SAUCE
Active time: Maybe 20 minutes
Time to table: Maybe 30 minutes
Beans serve 4, sauce makes 3/4 cup (use 1 tablespoon sauce per serving of beans)
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon table salt
1 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed (in 2005, I used frozen French beans)
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 cup lemon juice (from 2 - 3 lemons) (see ALANNA's TIPS)
3 egg yolks, lightly whisked
2 teaspoons cornstarch blended with 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
As much as 1/2 cup chicken broth (the original recipe suggests fish or vegetable stock as well)
Salt & pepper to taste
Minced herbs or pesto, optional (I didn't use any)
Bring salted water to boil in a large pot, one that leaves room for the beans to move around as they cook. Add the beans and cook for about 7 minutes or until tender-crisp or until reach desired tenderness. Drain.
While beans cook, make the sauce. Cook wine, garlic and shallots over MEDIUM heat in a small heavy saucepan until wine cooks down by about half and garlic and shallots are soft, about 10 minutes. (While the wine cooks down, prep the lemon juice, yolks, cornstarch mixture and herbs and get out the olive oil, chicken broth and salt and pepper; once the eggs are added, there's no time for anything else.)
Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice and egg yolks. Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly - pay attention for the sauce will cook very quickly from here. Sauce will thicken to consistency of heavy cream, don't let it boil. Continuing to whisk, add cornstarch mixture and then, slowly, the olive oil. Add chicken broth to achieve the desired consistency, more for a thinner sauce, less for a thicker one. Strain sauce through a sieve to remove the garlic and shallot solids. Season with salt and pepper, add herbs if desired. Top each serving of beans with 1 tablespoon sauce.
Per Serving: 100 Cal (50% from Fat, 11% from Protein, 39% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 6 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 10 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 56 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 18 mg Sodium; 51 mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 2 points
Adapted from a Florence Fabricant recipe published in New York Times May 18, 2005