When you think of braising, it’s usually meats, right? A pork shoulder, bubbling for hours in a bath of milk? Or a brisket, getting so juicy and tender in tomato sauce? Well one of my favorite braising recipes could be (but isn’t, but could be!) vegetarian. Green beans with fennel seeds and tomatoes. And bacon. Should you desire it. The beans get all meltingly tender, and the fennel adds just the right note of hmm?-what-was-that? And then of course there’s the smoky, fatty goodness from the bacon. Should you desire it.
This recipe has become an SCF classic. We make it nearly every fall, when tomatoes and beans are going out of season and their flavors need to be coaxed out gently over a long simmer in the pot. Here’s the original post from way back when: Braised Green Beans, An Amazing Discovery. (Oh my. Was that really six years ago? That’s crazytown.) Check out that post to see my adaptation that uses fresh tomatoes.
After the jump, the recipe (again).
Start with beans, of course.
All you need to make a great fall dish:
I like to saute the onions, then add the fennel seed to the pan to toast it a bit. Then I add the tomatoes to deglaze:
Add beans, bring to a boil, then simmer. For 3 hours. You will thank me.
Braised Green Beans
Since originally making this recipe, I’ve adapted it. I prefer to keep some bacon in the beans, rather than just using the drippings. You can make the recipe vegetarian by using olive oil.
1/4 cup diced bacon or 2 tablespoons bacon drippings or olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with the liquid
2 thick slices bacon, diced (or 1 ham hock)
1 teaspoon freshly ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
Heat the bacon drippings or oil in a heavy pot or Dutch overn with a tight fitting lid over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes with juice, bacon or ham hock, fennel, salt and papper to taste and bring to a simmer.
Cover, reduce the heat to very low, and simmer gently until tender, about 3 hours, stirring and tasting the beans occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.