CHEW THIS! Award Winning Green Beans

The following “Chew This!” column originally appeared in “The Courier-Times” and / or “The Shelbyville News”. Check their websites for further information and dates.

Beki McKown’s Award Winning Green Beans

Blaise Doubman

A few weeks ago, I sent out a request to my readers to send me their favorite green bean recipes. I was on a quest for a recipe that was familiar to the green beans of my childhood, and I must say that I had a huge response and was flooded with all types of green bean recipes! After sorting and trying recipes for the last few weeks, I have finally chosen a winner. Beki McKown’s green bean recipe was exactly what I was looking for and then some! I had the pleasure of interviewing Beki McKown, virtually, and getting to know the background of her love for cooking, her winning recipe I am sharing today and a few of her kitchen tips and tricks along the way. One of the secrets that make this recipe is sautéing the green beans! A trick Beki said she learned from either her mom, Thelma McKown, or possibly Thelma’s Mom, Gussie Kendall. I can not tell you how excited I am to share this recipe with everyone! 

Hello Beki! Congratulations on winning my green bean recipe search! Have you always had a love for cooking? If not, why. If so, when and how did it start?

I think I have always liked to cook, although when I was working and had a family to feed, it was more of a chore, although not an unpleasant chore.  When the kids were gone, I was able to do more cooking when I wanted to instead of when I had to, and I have loved it even more since I retired.

Do you like to cook or bake more? Why?

I prefer cooking, it is easier to experiment with, substitute and modify.  I rarely follow a recipe, and often just use a recipe to get an idea of how I want a dish to turn out.  Baking recipes are less forgiving.

Tell me a little about your green bean recipe and where it originated from and what changes – if any – you made to the original recipe.

I really do not think of the green beans as a recipe, it is more of a method.  I am not sure if my grandma (Gussie Kendall) did them the same way I do, but I do remember my mother (Thelma McKown) telling me that they get more flavor if you let them cook in the bacon grease until they turn bright green.  I may leave them a bit longer before adding the water, but otherwise it is just like my mother did.  I sometimes add smoked sausage pieces or even ham chunks, but I always start with bacon grease.

What is your favorite dish to make?

I like to make casseroles, like Johnny Marzetti (a recipe from a long-gone restaurant in Ohio) and shepherd’s pie (I use ground beef instead of the traditional lamb), and I like a lot of slow cooker dishes. 

What is your favorite food related memory? This could be a family memory, a delicious meal that stands out to you, Holiday meal, etc.

Christmas at Grandma Kendall’s would definitely rank up at the top, with her rice pudding and persimmon pudding (which I make almost every year for my brother and me.)  But my Grandma McKown also made really good fruit salads, and Swiss steak.

Is there anything you would like to share with the readers?Words of wisdom, cooking advice?

Do not get hung up if a recipe has an ingredient, you or your family cannot handle.  I am allergic to nuts and peanuts, but I just leave them our or substitute for texture when I need to.  Google “what to substitute for_____ (ingredient)” any time you need to change a recipe. And always be willing to try something new. And if you do not like a recipe, figure out what you do notlike, and alter the recipe to omit or substitute.

So nice talking with you Beki and thank you again for sharing this fabulous and now, award-winning recipe, with myself and the readers! It will be a favorite for years to come!

Award Winning Green Beans

This “recipe” has served my family for several generations. It calls for fresh green beans, but if you need to use canned, just rinse and drain well. I sometimes also add cuts of smoked sausage about 30 minutes before serving, but the bacon grease is a must, even if using sausage. I always keep bacon grease frozen so I can make things even if not using the bacon itself. I often take kitchen shears (or other good, clean scissors, and trim off several small snips from a pound of bacon, instead of using whole strips. It makes for instantly crumbled bacon, and still leaves you with (almost) whole strips for sandwiches, eggs, or whatever. I think I have switched my favorite potatoes to the little yellow potatoes because they stay firm even when cooked longer or reheated several times. -Beki

2-3lbs fresh green beans
4-5 strips bacon
Sliced or diced onion (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Small new potatoes (I prefer red but whatever you want)

Rinse and drain beans – the drier they are the less spatter. 

Brown bacon until very crisp. After browning, set bacon crumbles aside or refrigerate. 
If using onion, sauté it in the hot bacon grease until tender. 

Put drained beans into the hot bacon grease. Toss until most of the beans are bright green and have absorbed the bacon grease. Then add enough water to cover well. Put the lid on and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook for at least an hour, up to 4 hours on simmer. 

If adding new potatoes, add them about an hour before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste about 20 minutes before serving. Careful – bacon can be pretty salty, so be sure to taste before adding any. 

When ready to serve (or when potatoes are done) add bacon back to beans and stir in gently.

Ask and Answer: I would like to thank everyone again for their green bean recipes that I have received through email, website comments and Facebook. I love connecting with my readers and sharing recipes and sharing my love of food with you and making that a common thread.


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