Food Network Magazine (November 2015)
Selecting the menu for our Fakesgiving is a difficult task.
First off, there are more than 200 recipes from which to choose. But we consider each one, and start to strike dishes off the list. The first hundred fall away easily (for the kind of meal we're doing, we're not going to do an elaborate seafood buffet as an appetizer, but we appreciate that you would, Martha).
But then it starts to get more difficult. We think about the kind of menu we want (two turkeys? three stuffings?) and we impose a limit on the number of dishes (20 is manageable; 25 might end our relationship).
Eventually we get down to 40 to 50 recipes. At this point, we're looking for variety (something fresh or green, at least one potato dish) and we don't want to make a dish that's too similar to dishes we've made before (for this reason, no Brussels sprouts ended up on this year's menu -- Brussels are well covered on Our Favorite Holiday Recipes). Plus, we want a few dishes that really push us out of our Thanksgiving comfort zone.
Far beyond our comfort zone lies this Tex-Mex Green Bean Casserole. It was on, and then off, and then back on the list. It was definitely the most unusual of all the dishes we made this year. It was a gamble.
Sometimes, gambles pay off. This is not one of those times.
We are predisposed to dislike this dish for one simple reason.
No, it's not that we don't like casseroles. We are from casserole people and would gladly tear into one anytime.
It's more that we don't really believe that overly cheesy side dishes have a place at Thanksgiving. We love mac and cheese, but we've never served one at Thanksgiving.
And this is an incredibly cheesy dish. Primarily, it's a cheese sauce, made from half-and-half, chicken broth, and pepper jack cheese. Oh, and a few green beans, too.
And on top? What we referred to as homemade Doritos: tortilla chips that you spice yourself with chili powder. (The topping is pretty delicious.)
But this dish showed us why cheesy sides can be a challenge at a big Thanksgiving: By the time we got it to the table and our 20 guests had filled their plates, this cheese sauce had coagulated. And this casserole got ugly.
So how does it taste? If you're a cheeseaholic, you will love it. It's incredibly cheesy and the spices are nice. The poblanos give the casserole a tiny bit of heat. The beans are well cooked, they're still crisp tender, and not the sort of green beans we've had in other casseroles that have been cooked within an inch of their lives. If you do want to serve this at Thanksgiving, our advice is to serve it as soon after cooking as possible.
Some guests cheered when we announced this dish at Fakesgiving (don't judge). Others referred to it, lovingly, as a "trasherole."
But for us, this is just a dish that seemed more at home on Superbowl Sunday than Thanksgiving Thursday.
What's your take? Are you a cheesy fan at Thanksgiving? Would you serve this Tex-Mex Green Bean Casserole?
2 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 poblano chile peppers, seeded and cut into short strips
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese (about 8 ounces)
4 cups tortilla chips
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese (about 2 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and blot dry with paper towels.
Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the poblanos and onion, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are coated, about 1 minute.
Whisk in the half-and-half, chicken broth, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the pepper jack and stir until melted, then add the green beans and stir to coat. Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish. (You can refrigerate the casserole, covered, for up to 4 hours.)
Bake the casserole until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pulse the tortilla chips with the chile powder in a food processor until coarsely ground. Sprinkle the Cotija cheese and ground tortilla chips over the casserole; bake until golden, about 5 more minutes.