This easy recipe for old fashioned slow-cooked green beans starts with bacon and canned green beans and turns into something that tastes like someone’s grandma made them.
These beans have been in my life since I was old enough to eat. The first indication of a holiday feast brewing in the kitchen is the smell of bacon and onions cooking at the crack of dawn.
My grandmother used a spoonful of bacon grease when she cooked almost anything. She had a can of bacon grease sitting on the stove. She added to that can every time she made bacon for breakfast, which if memory serves me right was daily.
I do not use old bacon grease in mine.
In fact, I use new bacon cut into small pieces and fried right in the pan I am going to cook the beans in. I am going to use canned green beans too! Adding bacon will take the can taste out.
Trust me, these will not taste like canned beans when they have finished cooking!
Once the bacon has cooked, I stick some paper towels in there to remove most of the bacon fat. Using a spoon to remove most of the fat works too. I’m just a little lazy sometimes.
The flavor is really in the little brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Do not scrape them off. No worries, it won’t be stuck for too long, it will simmer its way off and make the green bean delicious.
The stuck bacon bits are necessary to produce a glorious pot liquor (or potlikker depending on where you’re from) that needs to be soaked up with cornbread or drank straight from the bowl.
You see, pot liquor isn’t reserved just for greens. My grandma used to say that all of the vitamins and good for you things were in it, but let’s face it when you start with canned beans, a good portion of the vitamins and minerals were probably washed out at the green bean factory.
SUBSTITUTING WITH FRESH BEANS
Canned beans don’t have to taste like the can. When they are slow-cooked with bacon and onions, they are transformed into Southern comfort food.
If you just can’t bring yourself to use canned or have a garden full of homegrown beans, then go ahead and substitute with fresh. I have spent my fair share of summer days sitting with my grandma or my mom snapping “string beans”.
I just prefer the texture of canned ones myself. But I guess there are probably more nutrients left when cooking with fresh.
A 28-ounce can of beans in this recipe has about 4 cups. One pound of fresh, once cleaned and cut, will provide around 3 cups of beans. I would start with 1 1/3 pounds of fresh green beans for this recipe
To make enough for a holiday meal I usually triple this recipe.
I add a small amount of lemon pepper to the simmering green beans to brighten the flavor.
Lemon-pepper is not necessary, but it will set this recipe apart from all of the others you may have tried.
STORING AND REHEATING LEFTOVERS
Leftovers can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for several days.
To reheat, place in a saucepan and reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the beans are heated through.
Microwaving is also a suitable method for reheating. Place the green beans into a bowl and cover loosely with paper towels or a lid and heat on high for 1 minute. Stir the beans and heat for another minute or until the beans are heated through.
Cooked green beans can be frozen in a covered freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. For the best results, allow the green beans to thaw in the refrigerator before using the same methods as above for reheating.
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Old Fashioned Green Beans
- In a large saucepan placed over medium-high heat, add bacon and cook until bacon is brown.
- Reduce heat to medium. Drain off bacon grease, if desired. I use paper towels to blot out most of the fat.
- Add onions to the pan and cook while stirring, until the onions are translucent.
- Add green beans and liquid from the can. Stir to mix the bacon and onions with the green beans.
- Add 3 cans of water to the pan. More may be needed, make sure the beans are covered with water.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Add lemon-pepper to taste if using.
- Bring green beans to a boil over high heat.
- Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for at least 2 hours. Longer simmering is fine, just be sure to add water occasionally so beans do not dry out.
- Serve hot.
- Leftovers can be refrigerated and then reheated on the stove top over medium heat.