Wilted Beans

It’s been the vogue for a while to barely cook green beans—just plunge in boiling salted water for a few minutes until crisp tender. And, especially if they are skinny, beans are good cooked like that, in a squeaky, vibrant-green sort of way. There’s something to be said, though, for cooking beans over very low heat in their own buttery juices until they’ve wilted into a sweet, rich, slightly caramelized heap. A comforting dish, especially now the evenings are drawing in.

Wilted Beans
For 4
1 lb or so green beans, not ultra-skinny, trimmed
1 Tbs. mild olive oil
1 Tbs butter
salt and pepper
squeeze. lemon juice
1 Tbs. chopped parsley

Warm butter and oil in a medium pan over gentle heat . (A non-stick or heavy-bottomed pan works well for this.) Rinse beans, and halve any larger ones, so they’re all more or less the same size. Add beans, still wet from rinsing, to the pan. Turn beans over in the butter and oil for a few minutes until well coated.

Season with salt and pepper, stir in a tablespoon of water (or stock if you have it) and cover the beans with a circle of cooking parchment or foil cut to the size of the pan. (If you use foil you can make the circle a bit larger and “pinch up” a handy little grab-hold in the center.) Lay this first cover directly over the beans, then cover pan with a lid. Cook very slowly for 20-30 minutes, uncovering the beans several times to stir and add a splash of water or stock if the pan gets dry—you want the beans to caramelize just a bit but not burn. When beans are done, glistening with juices and flecked with the odd spot of brown, add a squeeze of lemon juice and check seasoning. Scatter over parsley and serve —with fish or meat, and steamed or roasted potatoes on the side.

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