My in-laws request these green beans for basically every family gathering—and these are people who know their country cooking!
Blue-Ribbon Seal of Approval
I didn't grow up learning the ways of country cooking; my mom was raised by city dwellers, and so was I. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, is a terrific country cook. She asked me to bring green beans to an Easter gathering a few years ago, and that's when I found this recipe, which Paula Deen calls "Green Beans With New Potatoes." In this preparation, fresh green beans are steamed and simmered in chicken broth with thinly sliced onions and new potatoes.
To my surprise, my husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sisters-in-law, and their husbands all agreed that these were the best green beans they had ever tasted. These are people who know their country cooking! As a suburban girl, I had not only successfully cooked a classic Southern country dish, I had won my in-laws' blue-ribbon seal of approval. I used to always bring a green bean casserole to these get-togethers, but now they specifically request these green beans—every time.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 hour 30 min
8 to 10 servings
- 3 pounds fresh green beans
- 1/4 pound smoked salt pork or bacon, chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup bacon drippings*
- 2 cups chicken broth (plus more if needed)
- 3 teaspoons Paula Deen's House Seasoning**
- 12 new potatoes (small red potatoes)
- 1 large onion
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter***
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Wash the green beans, removing any leaves, stems, and limp or shriveled beans. Snap or cut the beans in half. This can be tedious when you do it by yourself, but when my family sits around and snaps beans together, it's actually quite fun. If I'm alone and in a hurry, sometimes I'll skip the snapping and leave the beans whole; they turn out just as well.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, add the salt pork and fry it over medium heat until lightly browned.
- Add the bacon drippings to the pot. Allow the drippings to melt, then add the green beans to the pot. Toss the beans to coat them thoroughly.
- Add chicken broth and Paula Deen's House Seasoning (or its substitute, below). Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and allow to cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat. (Note: If you are accustomed to completely covering your green beans in liquid, it will seem as though there is not enough chicken broth—but don't worry. Just make sure the lid stays on the pot, and the beans will steam until they're tender.)
- While the beans are cooking, wash and scrub the new potoatoes. Use a vegetable peeler to peel a strip around the center of each potato. If I'm in a hurry, sometimes I'll cut the potatoes in half instead. If the potatoes are very small, I'll sometimes use them whole without peeling a strip around the center or cutting them in half.
- Cut the onion in half; then slice each half into thin slices.
- After the 30-minute cooking time is up for the beans, add the potatoes and onions to the pot. At this point, you may also add in a quarter or half cup of additional chicken broth, if you like.
- Cover the pot again with a tight-fitting lid and cook for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. It's a good idea to lift the lid and take a peek every now and then. You want to make sure that at least a small amount of liquid remains.
- Once the potatoes are tender, tilt the lid to allow some steam to escape. Continue cooking for about 15 more minutes, until the beans have wilted.
- Add butter and pepper. Stir to mix evenly. Serve and enjoy!
* Bacon Drippings: When you fry the bacon or salt pork, you will most likely get enough drippings to coat the green beans. Note: You may omit the bacon drippings, or reduce the amount, in order to make a healthier dish.
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** Paula Deen's House Seasoning: If you do not have this in your kitchen, you can make your own version: Mix 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon seasoned salt.
*** Butter: You may omit the butter, or reduce the amount, in order to make a healthier dish.
How to Keep and Serve Leftover Beans
Leftover beans are just as delicious the next day. I often make a large pot of these beans for a weekend supper, when I have more time to cook. The recipe makes much more than our family of four will eat at one meal.
When supper is over, I plop the lid on the pot and put it in the refrigerator. During the week, when our schedules are crazy and I need to get dinner ready quickly, I simply grab the pot of beans and reheat them on the stove for a few minutes. It's so handy having a ready-made side dish that's this delicious.
Variation: Omit the New Potatoes
My in-laws request these green beans for basically every family gathering—and often, mashed potatoes and gravy are also on the menu. When I know we're having mashed potatoes, I usually omit the new potatoes in this recipe (as I did in these photos) because new potatoes seem redundant if we're also having mashed potatoes. Additionally, new potatoes are quite expensive in my little part of the world, so this also saves a bit of money.
When I leave out the new potatoes, I'll add an extra half-pound of green beans to the recipe.
Paula Deen and Healthy Cooking
Over the years, I have learned to love Paula Deen's recipes—hers are some of the most delicious dishes I have ever tasted. However, she has come under fire for years, mainly because of the high fat and sugar content of many of her recipes. When she publicly announced that she has diabetes, I don't think anyone was surprised, especially if we assume that she regularly eats the decadent dishes featured on her cooking show as well as in her magazines and cookbooks.
However, this particular recipe for green beans is one of her healthiest—and in my opinion, it is also one of her most delicious. Although the green beans are indeed seasoned with salt pork, bacon drippings, and butter, you can easily reduce the amount of these fats to make a healthier version. Personally, I use the full amount because it adds such a wonderful smoky flavor. Also, if you use a slotted spoon when serving the beans, you will find that most of the fat from the butter and pork will drip back into the pot or serving dish.