Twice today, I came across blog posts dissing that timeless American holiday classic, the green bean casserole. One person called it “an abomination” and another gave it a big, fat NOPE. Bolded and italicized, just like that.
Oh, the humanity!
Clearly, these naysayers and I disagree on the definition of haute cuisine (a French phrase meaning “good grub.” Loosely translated, of course.) I knew I was fighting an uphill battle when I endorsed the candy corn bratwurst last month but figured something like the green bean casserole was a surefire crowd pleaser.
Dorcas Reilly (1926 – 2018) would roll over in her grave. She was a chef and inventor who worked in the Campbell’s Test Kitchen creating new recipes. Dorcas came up with hundreds of recipes during her tenure but is best known for the green bean casserole. Originally called “Green Bean Bake,” this delectable dish was invented in 1955. The mixture of canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French fried onions wasn’t an immediate hit, but thanks to Dorcas’s persistence, it eventually caught on. Today, it’s one of the most popular Thanksgiving side dishes. In fact, Campbell’s Soup Company estimates that 40% of all cream of mushroom soup sold in the U.S. is used to make the green bean casserole. The original recipe card was donated to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio. Not a bad legacy for an unassuming woman from Camden, New Jersey.
I guess it’s another dish you either love or hate. Tara is not a fan but I am. My mom never makes it, my dad loves it.
I actually haven’t made green bean casserole in years, but it will be gracing our holiday table come Thursday. I’ve declared this a “Back to Basics” Thanksgiving and will be making a bunch of old favorites that haven’t seen the light of day since before we moved.
Up until 2018, Thanksgiving belonged to MarTar. We hosted every year, even if that meant cramming a dozen family members into a tiny third-floor apartment and busting out TV trays to accommodate everybody. It may have been a tight fit, but there was always plenty of food, and a wide variety of it. When you’re cooking for that many guests you can afford to set out five or six side dishes. But once we moved to South Dakota and it was suddenly just the two of us for Thanksgiving, we scaled back. Meaning some of our favorites fell by the wayside.
Our game plan for 2021 looks quite a bit different.
Green bean casserole is rejoining the starting lineup for the first time since 2018. With a crunchy topping and creamy middle, GBC is a well-rounded player who will complement creamed corn in the backfield. Together, they’re a dual threat for the offense, giving the coaching staff multiple options.
In a surprise move, we acquired a newcomer this season, a sausage/pear/sage stuffing. He’s the younger brother of the sausage/apple/sage stuffing that excited fans for many years in the early 2000s. A coaching change when Tara transferred from Nevada in 2012 spelled the beginning of the end for this hardworking player, who saw his role dwindle when the team went in a new boxed direction. After transitioning to a stove top defense, he retired in 2015. While they share the same DNA, the pear’s softer texture and more aromatic flavor promise a bold change to the lineup that could prove to be a difference-maker. Mashed potatoes were traded to make room for the stuffing. After an un-a-peeling performance that added little excitement to the table in 2020, they were deemed expendable.
Perhaps the biggest move involved letting go of our MVP, the pumpkin cobbler. This undrafted walk-on was a hot addition to the team in 2015 following a dazzling performance at a work potluck and won Rookie of the Year honors. Whenever the game was on the line and you thought you couldn’t possibly eat one more bite, PC proved you wrong, nimbly forcing his way into the end zone. But pumpkin pie is a Hall of Fame dessert, a true legend that can score points without even trying. We’re betting he’s the missing piece that will make this meal a championship contender.
I don’t know what the oddsmakers in Vegas are saying, but I can guarantee some super bowls (and plates) come Thursday!