Green beans with bacon will always find a place in my heart, and in my kitchen. I remember, even as a very young girl, visiting my godparents in a tiny, drawn and weathered town on the outskirts of Tulsa, Oklahoma. At dinner time, I’d sit at their table which, large as it was, never seemed to have enough room for all the boisterous, warm-hearted relatives who came for supper. Sitting at the table, I’d eagerly await my godmother’s classic comfort food. No potato was served without gravy. No strawberry served without cream. And, definitely, no green bean served without bacon. In many ways, this recipe is an homage to her – my godmother who cared for me when I was very little, and in whose yard I hunted Easter eggs, and who nourished me at her table – green beans with bacon and all.
As we endeavor to eat meals with plentiful servings of vegetables, and to always serve our vegetables with wholesome fat, this recipe for green beans with bacon and shallots appears at the supper table quite often – an accompaniment for classic meatloaf or roast chicken with herbs. Smoky and salty, pastured bacon provides a perfect foil to the sweet, crisp green beans while caramelized shallots bring the entire dish together; afterall, everything is better with caramelized shallots.
Like many of the wholesome recipes listed here, my version of green beans with bacon makes use of the most loathed ingredient of fat-hating nutritionists nationwide: lard or bacon fat. Of course, as an enthusiast of traditional food – real food, we take an entirely different approach to dietary fat at Nourished Kitchen, appreciating, honoring and celebrating its use in the kitchen, not only for the flavor and texture it brings to foods, but also for its nourishment. You see lard and bacon fat, provided they’re sourced from pasture-raised animals, are healthy fats. They’re comprised primarily of monounsaturated fat1– lauded for its benefits to heart health and the very same fat found in olive oil and avocado; moreover, it is a potently rich source of natural vitamin D2 – a nutrient that proves harder and harder to come by as many of us eschew direct sunlight and fatty foods. Indeed, over 70% of US children suffer from insufficient or deficient levels of this critical vitamin3, and adults fare no better4. Curious? Read more about disease and vitamin D deficiency.
Green beans with bacon, when served in our home, are served without a lick of guilt; rather, they’re served with the knowledge that the vitamins in green beans, which include vitamin C, vitamin K1 and folate are further complemented by wholesome monounsaturated fat and a healthy serving of vitamin D. In a pinch, you can substitute clarified butter for bacon fat or lard in this recipe for green beans with bacon.
- 1 pound fresh green beans, (trimmed with strings removed)
- 1 tbsp lard, bacon fat or clarified butter
- 4 ounces pasture-raised bacon
- 4 shallots, (peeled and thinly sliced)
- Place trimmed green beans in a steamer basket over rapidly boiling water and steam until their color becomes vibrantly green and their texture becomes tender without becoming too soft, about seven to ten minutes.
- In a separate pan, preferably a cast iron skillet, heat lard, bacon fat or clarified butter over a medium flame until melted and sizzling.
- Add four ounces pasture-raised bacon to the sizzling fat, and fry until fragrant, brown and crispy. Set the bacon aside, but reserve the fat.
- Toss thinly sliced shallots into the hot fat, and fry until well-caramelized with a deep, but subtly smoky fragrance – about four or five minutes. Set aside.
- Add steamed green beans to the hot fat and fry for a minute or two until they’re heated through and well-coated with bacon fat. Remove from heat and plate.
- Crumble bacon and caramelized shallots over the green beans and serve hot.