Cookbooks are always welcome gifts but The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food by Ian Knauer was an inspired choice. For starters, these inscriptions were penned by two of my favorite cook's grandchildren. Yes, they brought tears:
Dear Grandpa, I like your garden! Here's a book on how to cook with it! Love, E.
Two days later, "PopPop" aka Grandpa and the kids selected recipes from the cookbook, shopped for groceries and set up to cook dinner. What a feast! A venison loin rubbed with mustard, oil and fresh herbs. Homemade biscuits, light as air! Green beans topped with a sweet-sour sauce, bacon and a chopped egg. "How are the green beans?" I asked at the table. "Fantastic!" murmured E., reaching for another bite.
If this dish seems like a hearty farm dish, it is. If you lived on a farm with a surplus of bacon and eggs, and a garden full of green beans, isn't this what you'd make? Me too. About that bacon? A Note to Vegetarians.
RECIPE for PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH GREEN BEANS with BACON
Time to table: 45 minutes
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped, see Perfect Hard-Cooked Eggs
2 quarts (8 cups) water
1 tablespoon table salt
1 pound green beans, trimmed
Large bowl ice water
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
EGG If needed, cook the egg.
BEANS While the bacon cooks, bring water and salt to a boil in a large pot. Add the beans and cook for about 6 minutes, until cooked but still bright green. Drain and drop into ice water for 1 minute to stop the cooking. Drain and let the beans dry on paper towels.
BACON SAUCE In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crispy, stirring often. Lift the bacon out of the skillet to drain a bit on paper towels, leaving the bacon grease in the skillet. Stir in the onions and cook until soft, stirring often. In a bowl, combine cornstarch, brown sugar, dry mustard and salt, then slowly stir in the milk. Pour milk mixture into the skillet and bring to a boil, let cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Whisk in the vinegar.
TO SERVE Place the beans on a platter, pour the sauce over top. Top with bacon pieces and chopped egg.
TO MAKE AHEAD Cook the egg, beans and bacon sauce ahead of time and refrigerate. To serve, return beans to room temperature (or for hot beans, warm in a skillet), rewarm the bacon sauce and serve.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
To my taste, the egg isn't that necessary, though provides nice creaminess in contrast to the crispy bacon.
Snap the beans in half, especially if you want them to go further.
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