Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Side Dish - Garlic Green Bean Bundles

Thanksgiving was always my mom’s holiday. I remember when my brother and I would set the dinner places in the basement of our little house. The basement was the only place big enough to seat everyone together—and that was only because my dad had crafted his own tables to fit the odd-shaped space. Twenty-six people would sit around in a cobbled-together L-shaped space and my brother and I would not only set the places, we were charged with dusting the chairs. As kids we thought this was nuts. You *sat* on chairs. Why did they need to be dusted?

Thanksgiving meant the combined scents of roasting turkey, sizzling turkey liver and sautéed onions (which provided the start for the best stuffing in the world ever), Polish sausage, sauerkraut (I married into the name Hyzy which is blessedly short. My maiden name was a whopper!) and Lemon-Pledge as we prepared for the relatives to arrive.

Side dishes usually included buttered/salted green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (my brother and I avoided those) and an amazing lemon Jell-O I’ll have to share here some day.

My birthday is mid-November, so my family party was always held at our Thanksgiving celebration. There I am, acting all dramatic... "For me??"

Check out those tablecloths...
We were really stylin' weren't we? ;-)

When our dad passed away, I was married with all my kids and I’d taken over Christmas and Easter when other relatives aged out of hosting responsibilities. When our mom died three years later, I inherited Thanksgiving too, and kept it for several years. But my brother and his partner have now taken over the November holiday—and they do a more amazing job than I could have ever imagined. They prepare printed menus, provide place cards, and make everyone who visits their home feel pampered. It’s much fancier than the five different-patterned tablecloths covering our Dad’s home-made tables and the drinks served from atop the washing machine, but no less warm and welcoming. They invite us, my husband’s mom and sister, our closest cousins, and cousins, aunts, and parents from my brother’s partner’s side. It’s a great collection of fun people who really just enjoy being together. I can’t wait to see everyone again this year.

I’m usually in charge of the fresh Polish sausage, and a vegetarian dish for our youngest. This year I may also add something from my second White House Chef book, Hail to the Chef. I made these for Christmas dinner last year and they were such a hit that I keep making them at home whenever I can. They are so fabulous and so easy—an incredibly tasty side dish that is put together quickly. Not to mention these bundles look gorgeous on a platter.

Garlic Green Bean Bundles

(This recipe serves about 6-8 people, give or take.)

Two pounds fresh green beans, washed, and with ends and strings (if applicable) removed.
1 pound good smoked bacon, raw.
1/2 cup olive oil.
3 cloves garlic, cleaned and minced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

On a sheet pan, cookie sheet, or jelly roll pan (e.g. a large flat pan with an edge sufficient to prevent the grease you’re about to make from running all over your nice clean oven), lay out the green beans in bundles of roughly 10-12 beans, with all the beans laid out in parallel formation.

Wrap each bundle loosely with a slice of bacon, tying it on top with a simple knot and arranging the loose ends artistically.

In a bowl, whisk the olive oil and the garlic. Brush this oil liberally over the green bean bundles.

Bake until the bacon is cooked to taste and the green beans are warmed through.

Remove bundles to a serving platter with a spatula. Serve warm.

Hope you enjoy…

My White House Chef Mystery series includes State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef, and, coming in January -- Eggsecutive Orders!

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  1. Julie, you were a cute little thing! And...Happy Birthday! Is today the big day? What a nice treat to have family over to celebrate your birthday every year!

    The green bean bundles sound very tasty. We haven't prepared them like that and it sounds like a nice change. Thanks!


  2. Who knew you could make green beans look pretty. With this recipe, even the pickiest eater would have to be tempted to try it. I can see why it would become a family favorite.

    Happy birthday. The photos are nice, thanks for sharing. You can tell that even back then you were going to be a star.

  3. I live in an area with a lot of Polish and German meat markets. The sausage selection this time of year is amazing. I'm sure you could find some tasty sausage for your celebration!

    By the way, I went from a short last name and married into a Polish one.

  4. Elizabeth - thanks ;-) I still remember wearing that dress - feels like just a few years ago, but --ahem-- it's been a bit more than that. Today's not the big day... that's tomorrow. Looking forward to dinner out with my husband and youngest. The other two daughters will join us on Saturday for dinner out yet again. Mmm.... I'm milking this week for all I can get ;-)

    Mason - thank you!! You're so sweet! And yes, those green beans are incredibly delicious. I can make a meal out of them for lunch after one of our parties.

    Janel - I *love* Polish sausage. So many folks prefer the smoked, but I'll take fresh any day. My mom was not Polish at all, but she learned how to make it so perfectly... a combination of boiling and frying. Not too healthy, but oh, so good. Those Polish last names can be tough. I went from 10 letters to 4 ;-)

  5. These bundles look delish! Happy mid-November birthday.

  6. So the green beans are sorta crisp when the bundles are done? Could they be cooked a bit first? And would turkey bacon work?
    When my mother was alive there were 20+ for Thanksgiving. Now that we're not near my family anymore, Thanksgiving makes me more homesick than Christmas.
    Your site won't accept my post with my google account or name and URL>

  7. Thanks, Avery!

    Anonymous - sorry the site won't let you post your Google account!
    The beans actually turn out a bit softer than you'd expect. Just a bit softer than al dente. The first time I made this I worried they would come out too crisp, but they were just perfect. I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving!


  8. Julie, thanks for sharing your memories! The shape of the pictures and the white borders takes me back! I love big Thanksgiving dinners. When my family made a trip to NY or Chicago, we always bought fantastic sausages made in little butcher shops. Oh, yum!

    Your green beans look lovely and very elegant. I look forward to trying them.

    Happy Birthday!


  9. Anonymous, have you tried signing in? The "sign in" link is on the left column, near the top. I had trouble leaving messages at first (and I set up the blog!). I finally went into my Google account, refreshed some of my information and everything cleared up.


  10. Julie-

    Happy Birthday! Love the bundles (bacon makes everything better -- and I say that even though I've decided recently -- okay, yesterday -- to eat less meat) and I love the nostalgic post. That's what the holidays are all about -- making

  11. We just finished eating our turkey and putting the rest in the refrigerator freezer. My kitchen is a mess but my dh is doing the first sinkful of dishes, thank you dear! Ended up just having plain yams and green beans so as to watch calories, but the meal was still good and we'll be enjoying "planned overs" for several days.
    Thanks Krista, when I sign in first it does work.

  12. Julie - Wonderful post - so touching to read about your personal Thanksgiving memories. Great recipe, too!

    Happy Thanksgiving (a little early)

  13. All meals are rich in vitamin a garlic flavor and adds a natural antibiotic and he is good in my swine flu