I have a confession to make: I don't like green beans. I guess that statement is a little broad. I don't like undercooked green beans. For a person who prefers all veggies practically raw, I realize that I am committing foodie sacrilege when I say that green beans are the one veggie I actually kind of like gray and from a can. Simmered in their own chartreuse juices and doused with a good bit of plain white vinegar, I have fond memories of canned green beans. That being said, I probably haven't eaten any canned green beans in about 10 years. All this to say, I don't like my green beans al dente. I don't like the rubbery fuzziness, I don't like the squeak. I just don't like them, Sam I Am.
Because I am always buying lots of (local) produce and going on about vegetables and the like, people are frequently surprised to hear about my haricots verts aversion (sorry, Rosie, but I just had to throw that one in - Harry Coe Verre was my favorite word in high school French class). I have this theory that I should keep trying things I think I don't like (except cilantro), because they probably just haven't been prepared the right way. Think of all the people who hate beets! They don't hate beets, they hate their mother's beets! Besides that, Husband really likes green beans, and so I still buy them for him. A coworker suggested I try green beans the way his mother made them - smothered in bacon. Well, I thought, bacon makes everything better, doesn't it? Yes, indeed it does.
Green Beans with Bacon - serves 4ish
4 thick strips bacon, cut into thin strips or lardons, for you fellow francophiles (I'm partial to the bacon from Blues Creek Farms in the North Market, for the record)
1 pound green beans, ends snapped and beans snapped in half (from my CSA)
Fruity vinegar, such as cider or raspberry vinegar - I used a new pomegranate vinegar from Trader Joe's which I'm particularly fond of at the moment, it's intensely sour and fruity
salt & pepper
1 tsp sugar
1-2 tbsp butter
Place the bacon in a cold saute pan and bring the heat up to medium, slowly rendering out as much fat as possible. When the bacon is crisp, drain it on paper towels and set aside. Drain most of the fat from the pan, leaving just a layer for cooking. Add the green beans, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for about 4-5 minutes, adding a little vinegar - a tbsp or so - if the pan gets dry. Cook the green beans to your desired doneness. Mine is pretty far, and I think I cooked them about 15 minutes (hence their slightly peaked look). When they are almost to your desired degree of doneness, add the bacon back in.
You should have a little liquid in the pan from the green beans. If not, add a little more vinegar. Turn the heat up to high and add the sugar, making a nice little syrup. Add the butter and toss to coat everything in the syrup and butter - if the butter burns slightly, that's a good thing, it will add a nice nuttiness to the finished product. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Perfect for getting finicky grown-ups to eat their vegetables.