If you’re looking for a different and delicious way to enjoy fresh green beans, look no further. These caramelized green beans are simple to prepare and bonus-there’s bacon. Even the green bean haters in our household take a scoop of these. No matter how much I prepare, the bowl is always emptied.
While I like green beans well enough, they kind of get left behind in the garden of recipes. About this time of year I see a thousand different zucchini recipes, but not many new ways of preparing the lowly green bean. And no, a new kind of green bean casserole does not count. I personally feel the same way about green bean casserole as The Pioneer Woman feels about bananas and Miracle Whip. Yes, I’m aware that eleventy-gillion people like green bean casserole and it’s always on their holiday table. It’s on mine sometimes, too. Made by mother-in-law, of course, not by me. My own mother made green beans only one way when I was growing up: she’d open a jar of home-canned green beans, heat them on the stove with some bacon and a little onion, and pour them into a bowl. End of story. Canned cream soup appeared infrequently in our home, and certainly never in conjunction with green beans. Fried onions came from the skillet by way of the garden-they were not in little cardboard cans on store shelves. I guess my parents never exposed me to green bean casserole at an early age so, alas, I never learned to love it.
I have no problem loving these green beans, though. Slightly sweet from a bit of brown sugar, a little crunch from the bacon, not overcooked to mushiness-there’s just nothing not to love here. This is a great recipe for your garden bounty or farmer’s market purchase.
Trim off the stem end (and the other end if it’s kind of scraggly) of the beans and wash them. If you prefer your beans shorter you can snap them in half. Do this while you’re cooking the bacon. I used a cast iron skillet, but you can use whatever you have as long as it’s at least a 10 or 12-inch size. (You’re going to need a lid for the skillet later. If your skillet doesn’t have a lid, improvise with a pizza pan or a cookie sheet.) After the bacon’s cooked, remove it and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the grease. Yummm, this is gonna make those beans tasty!
Throw the water, onions, and beans in the skillet. I pepper my beans, but I don’t usually salt them- you can if you wish. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring every once in awhile. Towards the end of the cooking time there will be less moisture-basically we’ve been steaming the beans in very little liquid, but since the lid is lifted occasionally to stir, the water is evaporating. While this can cause a little bit of charring of the onions and beans, we need some of the moisture to leave so there’s only a little when we add the brown sugar. Otherwise, we are just making beans in sugar water. Bleh. So keep stirring and don’t freak if some of the beans get a little brown. If you’re worried you can always add more water, a tablespoon at a time, but don’t overdo it.
Stir in the brown sugar and beautiful stuff happens. It melts in the skillet and coats the beans with a light caramel flavor in just a couple minutes. Add the crumbled bacon and dig in! I’m pretty sure other people are craving cookies or doughnuts for an evening snack, but all I can think of is green beans.
If you like a lot of bacon, you can add more. You can also double this recipe as long as you have a large enough skillet. (Please invite me if you’re doubling the recipe.) Do you have any interesting recipes for green beans (that don’t involve cream soup)? Let me know in the comments.
Caramelized Green Beans With Bacon
- 16-18 oz. fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
- 4 slices bacon
- ¼ c. water
- ¼ c. finely chopped onion
- ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 Tbs. brown sugar
- Step 1 Wash green beans and trim ends. Cut longer beans in half if you prefer them that way. Set aside.
- Step 2 In a 10 or 12-inch heavy skillet cook bacon until crisp over medium heat.
- Step 3 Remove cooked bacon and crumble.
- Step 4 Discard all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from skillet.
- Step 5 Add water, onion, and green beans to skillet. Add a couple dashes of pepper to the green beans and stir around.
- Step 6 Cover skillet and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes. The onions and some of the beans will darken toward the end of the 12 minutes so stir more frequently then.
- Step 7 Reduce the heat to medium low, uncover, and stir in the brown sugar.
- Step 8 Continue cooking, uncovered, and stirring 2 more minutes as sugar carmelizes and coats the beans.
- Step 9 Remove from heat and serve immediately.