White Trash Casserole

So, here’s my predicament:

My MIL and her sister-in-law trade off Thanksgiving dinner duties every year, and this is an Auntie L year.  Honestly, I much prefer it when it’s her turn; she’s a better cook than Mother Chili, she’s much more relaxed and gracious than my in-laws, and we get to watch football at her house (though that brings with it its own set of interesting convolutions, but we’re used to that by now).

Every year, I get asked to contribute to the dinner – something that I’m MORE than happy to do – and it’s sort of fallen to tradition for me to bring my mother’s creamed onions and the green bean casserole.

Don’t get me wrong, I LIKE green bean casserole.  I’m a huge fan of cream of mushroom soup and I really like french fried onions – plus green beans are one of my favorite veggies – so I’m really okay with it.  I can’t get over, though, that it really is white trash, and believe me, I grew up white trash, so I can say this with both authority and authenticity.   Canned soup, frozen beans, canned onions.  Really.

I find it strangely incongruous that with all of the other, homemade offerings at the dinner table, this would be something that shows up every year (not to mention that there’s precious little about this family that would indicate that they would ever allow such common nonsense at their holiday table but, every year, there it is).

SO, here’s my question: I found what looks like a scrumptious recipe for an alternative green bean casserole on Food Wishes (I love Chef John!).  Do I stick with the expected, albeit trashy, dish, or do I bring this much more attractive, much more elegant offering to dinner?  My instinct is telling me to leave well enough alone – that messing with tradition, even trashy tradition, is really just asking for it – but my belly and my pride are saying to exercise a little adventure and try something new.

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9 Comments

Filed under celebration, concerns, cooking, doing my duty, family matters, holiday, Questions

9 responses to “White Trash Casserole

  1. Are you prepared for the “disappointment” when you don’t do what is expected?

    Or, would it be better to make the classier dish for the people who love you more than games (the immediate Chilis)?

  2. Improbable Joe

    I do the green bean casserole with a homemade cream of mushroom soup, caramelized onions, and I buy the fresh and raw pre-trimmed green beans in the microwave steam-in bag. I cook the green beans in the bag for about half the time the directions call for, and then let them cook the rest of the time in the oven with the casserole. The only thing I keep is the french-fried onions, but covered in enough grated cheese to be nearly unrecognizable.

    My mother-in-law is a tiny, very prissy and slightly snobbish woman who eats like a bird. When we have Thanksgiving in my house, she has seconds of my green bean casserole.

  3. Wow! That Chef John recipe looks divine! It’s tough to tinker with tradition. If everyone eats the white trash version with gusto, stick with it. If they eat it to be polite, make the new version.

  4. Donna

    Mrs. Chili,

    Make your new dish and have fun doing it! It’s always good to try a new recipe and I’m sure it will be delicious. By the way, consider yourself lucky to have relatives to share your meal with, no matter how quirky. A lot of families don’t. Just a different perspective. Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Suzanne

    Another option would be to do both. More work, of course, but it could help transition the family from one to the other.

    I’m envisioning two dishes side-by-side, one filled with the “traditional” recipe, the other with the deliciously homemade version. Tell people that you are experimenting, and want to know what they think.

    Ideally, you appease the traditionalists, hopefully entice the majority of the family to prefer the new dish, and you are all set for next year.

  6. You know what they say pride goeth before, right?

    Suzanne beat me to the perfect solution. I was thinking that everyone loves a taste test and the worst that happens is you have more of one left over than the other. You’re going to like both of them so that part won’t matter!

  7. I made green bean casserole one year, but the beans were haricots verts, the soup was made from scratch and I got the Trader Joe’s fried onions, which are considerably better than those Durkee ones. I blanched the beans for like 2 seconds and shocked them, something I don’t typically do. The soup was made from button mushrooms, but I punched that up too, with some hen-of-the-woods and dried morels.

    The idea behind GBC is a good one, but its typical iteration is marred by not-so-good ingredients. It was very good. But I still prefer my green beans sorta tender crisp, sauteed in butter with shallots and finished with a little dry white wine, and that’s a lot less work.

  8. Pingback: Quick Hit: Spam is Funny | The Blue Door

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