My daughter Leah has been known to consume about a pound of haricots verts in a single sitting. Coincidentally (or not), she also looks like one of those skinny French beans.
“Proper” technique for cooking green beans (regular or haricots verts) is to blanch them in boiling water for about 2 minutes, then drain, rinse and cool in an ice bath (to stop the cooking). Then, you sauté the barely-cooked beans in butter and/or oil until just tender. This is not a bad method – especially if you want to blanch the beans a day ahead of time– but I have found that the extra steps (and dishes) are not necessary. Especially if you cook beans a lot – which we do.
The trick is to steam and sauté the beans in a single pan, at the same time. You’ll need a large skillet, and a lid that fits on top of the skillet. (They don’t have to be part of a matching set; mine are mix n’ match.) A little butter and a little water go into the skillet along with the green beans. Cook covered for a few minutes until barely tender, and then remove the lid to finish the process. The water/butter mixture evaporates, and Voilà! Perfect butter-glazed beans. Cook to your preferred degree of tenderness (we like them on the soft side), season with kosher salt and serve immediately. Or not! Beans cooked this way reheat well in a microwave. (Though we usually don’t have many leftovers with Leah around.)
Skillet-Steamed Green Beans
Serves 4 (can be doubled)
- 1 lb. green beans or haricots verts, stem-ends trimmed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add all ingredients and cover.
Cook approximately 5 minutes, or until beans are bright green and crisp-tender. Remove lid and continue cooking for a few minutes more, until most of the liquid has evaporated and beans have reached desired tenderness. (Test one to see.) Add more salt if necessary and serve immediately.
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