I always joke that I cook the “gourmet” versions of my mother’s meals. She has taught me everything I know, but I have surpassed the master in some ways. I can make a mean deep south string bean, but during the holidays I kick it up a notch with string bean casserole. My family loves it, and it allows me to keep Vanesa’s beloved godmother’s memory alive. She first introduced me to string bean casserole years ago. As she got sicker and weaker, I took it over for her.
I searched high and low for a recipe that combined all the things my family loves. Of course my search led me right to Paula’s doorway. As I stated, Paula is no longer invited to the cookout. But even black folks know, Paula can make a good dish. This string bean casserole is soooooooo good. I mean bite your fingers off good. It is also super easy to make.
I tweak it a bit. My brother is highly allergic to mushrooms, so I leave those out for Thanksgiving. The recipe also calls for cans of cream of mushroom. Since I love my brother dearly, I substitute cream of mushroom with cream of broccoli or asparagus. The onions and mushrooms in the recipe are for flavor and texture. I use chopped asparagus in place of the mushrooms for that purpose. My parents also like their string beans very very very soft. So I boil them much longer than the recipe calls for. I like the french string beans better because they aren’t as bulky. With a family my size, I can buy 4 family size bags of the french string beans and stretch it.
You can follow this recipe step for step and never go wrong. I boil my string beans for 20-30 minutes in chicken broth. No need for turkey necks or ham bones. I season the string beans in the pot once they have boiled down some. While the string beans boil I fry the onions and asparagus. Pour the broth off the pot and use the pot to mix everything together. My mom prefers a wetter casserole, so I may use 2-3 cans of cream of asparagus. Adding the cream is a gradual thing. Don’t dump in three cans and set yourself up for failure. Start with one can, mix it thoroughly, and then add in half a can of cream from there. Sprinkle in some french onion rings once you have the right consistency.
Once you have everything mixed together and seasoned how you like, spread the mixture evenly in a casserole pan. I top it with the grated cheddar cheese and more french onion rings and bake it until the cheese is melted. I guarantee this is the best string bean casserole you will ever make and eat!!