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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sides: Skillet Roasted Green Beans With Orange

Side dishes can sometimes be the star attraction of a meal. They shouldn't be relegated to second tier status because of their side-ness. Most times they can enhance an entree or even elevate it. I have been known to choose or not choose a particular restaurant entree based solely on the side item served with it. Last night we had steak and lamb chops for our entrees.  Yep, both.  Michael doesn't care for lamb, so we cooked what each of us wanted to eat.  That happens a lot around here. He had a grilled marinated filet while I enjoyed blackened medium rare lamb chops.  They were good, but the skillet roasted green beans trumped the entire shooting match.

Using farmers' market green beans, I decided to adapt a recipe from The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern, a James Beard Award nominated cookbook.  The recipe is very straightforward with five ingredients.  I added two.

I didn't use flashy fussy pencil thin french haricot verts.  The Lee brothers intended the recipe to accommodate hardy meaty green beans.  So, that's what I did.
After trimming the beans and setting them aside,  I supremed, or segmented, a large naval orange over a bowl to catch the juices.

I got a cast iron skillet smoking hot, drizzled in olive oil, and tumbled in the green beans.  After sprinkling kosher salt and pepper over the top, I let them rip until they blistered and charred.  Literally, blistered.  That's the term the Lee Bros  recipe used and was the most accurate.  The blistering gave the beans a smoky undertoned bite.

I tossed the cooked beans onto a platter and sprinkled them with the orange segments. After adding 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, orange zest, salt, and pepper to the reserved orange juice, I whisked it together until slightly emulsified and poured it over the green beans and oranges.

I added the zest of a lemon for brightness and a scant 1 teaspoon drizzle of soy sauce for deeper umami flavor.

They were outrageous! Not quite bathed in an orange vinaigrette, but reminiscent of a warm green bean salad. The smoky beans were tender, crunchy, and  nutty tasting, almost like roasted asparagus. The slight acididy of the orange cloaked the green beans with sweet softness while each supremed orange bite released  gentle pulp explosions that paired beautifully with the bold char of the beans. The lemon zest inncocently cut through the silky orange while the soy sauce provided an invisible, yet subtly present flavor boost.

Side dishes are sometimes overlooked, but never forgotten. We won't forget this one.

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