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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Green Beans with Pancetta - French Fridays with Dorie

I love green beans. And the idea of cooking them until they're crisp tender, tossing them in a little butter and pancetta, and finishing them off with a drizzle of walnut oil sounded terrific. I thought it was very good, but maybe not quite terrific.

It took me more than two minutes to saute the pancetta "until frizzled and crisp." At the two-minute mark, the pancetta was still pretty limp. It's still not crisp enough for my taste in this picture, taken after about five minutes.

Beans in boiling water.

Beans in ice water. See how nice and green they are after being "shocked" by the cold water. I wish chefs would use a different word, like "refresh." I hate to shock the poor beans.

Back to the skillet, where they're reheated in a little butter, theoretically mixed with some of the pancetta fat that was rendered during the sauteeing process. My pancetta yielded only a few drops of fat. Apparently I bought pancetta Lite. This is the walnut oil I use. I keep it in the refrigerator because it otherwise goes rancid pretty quickly. It's still a good idea to give it a sniff before using it. If it's rancid, it'll only take a sniff to know it.

And there they are, ready to be served with mushroom risotto (or anything else you choose). As I said, I thought these were good, but not terrific. Even with all the good flavors, I thought something was missing. I think I'd saute a shallot with the pancetta next time. Or maybe they just needed another shake of the salt shaker. (I heard a chef say that the biggest mistake home cooks make is not salting enough--I know it's heresy to say this, but I like foods that have been properly salted.


  1. Marie, did you add pepper onto the beans? I like to put freshly grated pepper, it adds to the flavor.

    What else do you use walnut oil for? Just sparingly for veggies? I've seen that pretty bottle at Whole Foods all the time but was afraid to buy it because I'm afraid it'll go bad before I get to use all of it.

  2. Jenn,
    I always have a peppermill on the table and add it then.
    I also use walnut oil for making vinaigrettes--it's a nice change occasionally from olive oil. It lasts for quite a long time if you keep it in the refrigerator.