French Green Bean and Chanterelle Casserole

Green bean casserole- you either love or loathe this ubiquitous staple of the American holiday table. At its best, it’s edible, but nothing particularly special- at its worst, it’s a goop-y grey-green mush coated in a bland, lumpy sauce that no one wants to eat. And so, green bean casserole just sort of occupies space on the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner plate, sandwiched somewhere between the mashed potatoes and the stuffing, only eaten once everything else that tastes better is gone. Which is a shame, because green bean casserole has the potential to be a really delicious side dish. So why do so many things go so wrong with this dish so often?

If you go all the way back to the original recipe, you’ll find that the “classic” green bean casserole is little more than a combination of canned goods- canned soup, canned beans, even the “french fried onions” are canned. Which isn’t surprising, since the dish was created by the Campbell’s Soup Company in 1955 as “a quick and easy recipe around two things most Americans always had on hand in the 1950s: green beans and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup.” Although certainly convenient and economical, this combination of canned goods often yields lackluster results.

Perhaps a better approach to this dish would be to take it even further back to its core culinary concepts, haricots verts à la crème (green beans in cream sauce) and velouté aux chanterelles (chanterelle soup). By combining the flavors and cooking techniques of these two French dishes, you can create a truly remarkable side dish sure to convert even the staunchest haters of green bean casserole. Blanching fresh haricots verts yields beans that retain their texture, color, and flavor, while a classic velouté enrobes the beans in a velvety sauce infused with the the fruity, earthy flavor of golden chanterelle mushrooms. Finally, the dish is topped with crispy fried shallots, which tie together all the flavors and textures of this luxe take on green bean casserole.

You can substitute dried chanterelles if you can’t find fresh mushrooms- just make sure to rehydrate them before chopping them up. Sweet onions (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla)  can also stand in for the cippolinis, but remember to account for the difference in size (you’ll probably only need to use one small sweet onion). If you want to amp up the mushroom flavor in this dish, you can add in a tablespoon or two of dried, powdered mushrooms (such as porcini).

As written, this recipe makes 10 servings, but you can easily halve it to make a smaller dish- in case you decide you want to serve this casserole more than just once or twice a year.


  • 2½ pounds fresh French green beans (haricots verts), trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5 large cipollini onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ pound Chanterelle mushrooms, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • ½ pound baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 4 ounces crispy fried shallots or onions (home made or store bought)


In a large pot of salted boiling water, add green beans and blanch until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain beans immediately and rinse with cold water, then pat dry. Cut beans in half and set aside.

Over medium heat, melt butter in a large, deep sauté pan. Add onions, sauté for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add paprika, cayenne pepper, ground pepper and salt; stir until combined. Add mushrooms, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover mushroom mixture and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Gradually add flour to mushroom mixture, stirring to combine. Slowly add chicken stock (about ½ cup at a time) stirring constantly until all stock has been added and mixture is smooth. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook for an additional 5 to 8 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Once thickened, stir in crème fraîche, lemon juice and green beans. Simmer, stirring occasionally until beans are heated through, about 8 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°. Transfer green bean mixture to a 9″ x 13″ glass or ceramic baking dish. Bake casserole for 20 minutes or until bubbling. Remove from oven and top with crispy fried shallots, covering the top completely (save the additional fried shallots for those who wish to add more to their individual serving). Serve warm.

Cook’s Notes: The casserole can be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated overnight. Let the casserole return to room temperature and bake according to directions. Be sure not to add the crispy shallots until after the casserole has been cooked or they will be soggy.