Friday, February 18, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie: Pancetta Green Beans

I was wondering how Pancetta Green Beans, this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe, made its way into Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours, but now I know there is Italian pancetta and ventrèche, French-style pancetta. Like bacon, ventrèche is made with pork belly and cured rather than smoked. It is meatier than bacon, and can be sliced thin, seared, and used in salads or canapés, or used to wrap lean meats for flavor and moistness.

Dorie adds crispy pancetta to green beans for "a speck of saltiness, another texture, and elements of elegance and surprise." Although not specifically called for, I used haricots verts, French for "green beans," a longer, thinner type of green bean than the typical, American green bean.

Although this is a very simple side dish to prepare, it is essential to blanch the green beans in heavily salted, boiling water until they are cooked through. The green beans are then plunged into an ice bath to stop the cooking, until thoroughly chilled, which results in vividly-colored, perfectly seasoned green beans.

I consulted Thomas Keller, chef extraordinaire, on this issue. Tom's "big-pot blanching" calls for a hefty one cup of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, 3lb per gallon of water. "You need to have enough water so that it doesn't lose its boil when you add the vegetables...the faster a vegetable is cooked, the greener it becomes." The quantity of salt seasons the vegetables and "prevents the color from leaching into the water."

Keller's Ad Hoc at Home not only has incredible recipes, but also includes words of wisdom, or lightbulb moments, on becoming a better cook...Great product + great execution = great cooking.

To drain the green beans after blanching, set them on a cooling rack lined with paper towels, over a baking sheet, so the beans don't sit in the excess water.

Coarsely chop the pancetta, sauté until frizzled and crisp, and drain on paper towels.

A few minutes before you are ready to serve, return the green beans and pancetta to the pan, stir over medium heat until heated through, season with a fresh grind of pepper, and drizzle with a little olive or walnut oil.

Our pancetta green beans paired beautifully with fresh, local halibut seasoned with a light Cajun spice rub.

There are many variations on this side dish, and I've included a few links to some that look especially good...

Green Beans with Pancetta and Mint  (Saveur)
Sauteed Green Beans with Pancetta and Mushrooms (Tyler Florence)
Green Beans with Sage and Pancetta (Bon Appetit)
Green Beans with Pancetta, Garlic and Herbs (Fine Cooking)
Green Beans with Pancetta and Pine Nuts (Williams Sonoma)
Spaghetti with Pancetta, Green Beans and Basil (Martha Stewart)

Finally, since I've got you here, you must try these Brussels sprouts. I ordered them as a side dish with my $60 steak, at Michael Mina's Stripsteak, Las Vegas (Best. Steak. Ever. I'd much rather spend money on food than gambling in Vegas). When I returned home, I made them for John, who hated Brussels sprouts, and we're both hooked. You could easily substitute pancetta for the bacon.

Glazed Brussels Sprouts
Slightly adapted from Michael Mina
4 servings

4 slices bacon (or pancetta), cut into small dice
1 pound young Brussels sprouts, tough or torn outer leaves discarded
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into small dice
About 6 dried juniper berries (Juniper Berries Whole), crushed and finely chopped

Separate the Brussels sprouts into individual leaves, by trimming the bottom and tearing off leaves. Keep trimming a little off the bottom to release the leaves and discard the inner core.

Saute the bacon over medium-high heat in a medium saute pan, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes, until it is slightly crisp but still meaty-chewy in the center.

Add the leaves to the skillet, tossing gently to combine. Cook for a few minutes, until they are slightly wilted; do not overcook. Add the butter and stir until melted, then add the diced apple and juniper berries. Toss gently until the ingredients are evenly coated. Serve immediately.

Now, go eat your greenies!

French Fridays with Dorie is a online group of home chefs, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan's latest book, Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.  Dorie says this book is about one of her great loves, France and its food, and is filled with stories of French life and "recipes for the elbows-on-the-table food" that she and her friends prepare in France today. The cookbook was a gift to myself for Christmas, and I've been on a French diet ever since!

French Fridays with Dorie rules do prohibit posting the actual recipe in our blog posts, to encourage purchase of the cookbook. However, this is truly a beautiful cookbook, full of incredible French dishes. Some recipes appear very simple, and some appear challenging, but all are approachable for the average home cook.



Anonymous said...

Kudos for actually using haricots verts! And, thanks for including the Brussels sprouts recipe. It looks delicious!

Ms. Hobby said...

Your pics are great! I'll have to try the brussel sprouts.

Anonymous said...

Your beans look great! And the Brussels recipe looks like a winner, too.

Aubepine said...

Thanks for all the links to variations!

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. The pictures are lovely and so pleasing to the eyes! Thanks for the brussels sprouts recipe too.

Anonymous said...

What fantastic photos! I can't wait to try the second recipe!

Jessica of My Baking Heart said...

Such beautiful photos! Everything looks and sounds wonderful! :)

Flourchild said...

Great greenbeans! I never thought I would put a post on my blog about Greenbeans!HA! It just shows how amazing Dorie is!!
I love your photss!

Cher said...

Oh, how lovely. Now I am thinking about all the variations... And the sprouts.

Kris' Kitchen said...

Nice post...BEAUTIFUL process photos. Your beans look perfect. And thanks for the additional ideas. I always think Brussels look so pretty, but I'm always disappointed. Appreciate your tips...I'll try again.

tricia s. said...

Your photos are Stunning. STUNNING. Great extra options - I especially love the Williams Sonoma add in of pignola nuts. Genius. And I am already a big brussels sprout fan (as is Nana) so I will be making the recipe you shared for sure. Great post~

kitchenarian said...

I love all the variations on the recipe that you found. I am quite tempted by the one with pine nuts and then the one with mushrooms.

I loved this recipe. Great post.

Frankly Entertaining said...

I love all of your extra links! I'm going to have to borrow the Ad Hoc book from the library, it sounds amazing.

Tammy said...

I love your post ... great photos, good description and wonderful-sounding Brussels sprouts recipe. I see that you are on Coronado which is one of my favorite places of all time! I was just there last fall for a photo shoot with my brother and his wife who live nearby.

Anonymous said...

Wow, your pictures are amazing! I definitely recommend the mustard tart. I'd suggest not going over the 2T mustard on the first try, because I did, and it was almost too strong :)

Lana said...

Our local Persian store always has great fresh green beans really cheap, and that's what I used. I haven't seen haricot verts around, but it looks like a great idea.
All in all, it was easy, fast, and delicious. Pairs well with a lot of dishes. A great idea to apply to different veggies.
Michael Mina opened a restaurant here in SoCal recently, if I am not mistaken. I'd love to go. in the meantime, I will try to use the Brussels sprouts recipe:)

Anonymous said...

Denise, Your post and blog is lovely! I appreciate the variations on a green bean theme and also references to Thomas Keller and the salted water for blanching. I look forward to visiting here often and browsing around your other posts.
It's nice to meet you and be a part of the ffwD club!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to try this recipe again when beans are in season. Thanks for the brussels sprouts recipe - it looks fantastic!

lola said...

Lovely pics!

Laurel {Make and Takes} said...

Wow these look so good!! And beautiful pictures. We're featuring side dishes this week at the M&T Spotlight and I'd love for you to submit this.