Christmas Day lunch — a table laden with season's eatings. Roast leg of pork with crunchy crackling and a drizzle of apple sauce. Orange marmalade-glazed ham studded with maraschino cherries, pineapple and cloves. A platter of prawns with thousand island dressing. Dauphinoise potatoes and baked sweet yam with maple syrup. Sponge cake trifle layered with custard, peaches and jewel-like blobs of jelly. Bowls of cherries and a berry-topped pavlova. And, best of all — crisp and delicious green beans. Yes, green beans.
Christmas is a smaller affair these days and, I don't know about you, but I just can't seem to eat quite as much as I used to. That said, I do still love a feast on December 25th, and green beans will always have pride of place on my Christmas menu. I prepare them to this very simple (and very good) recipe.
500g fresh green beans, topped and tailed if needed
1 teaspoon sea salt+
250g smoked bacon loin, sliced into strips
1 good sized eschalot, finely chopped
spray olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh curly parsley, finely chopped
Half-fill a medium sized saucepan with water and bring it to the boil. Add the beans and the salt+ to the pot, lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the beans are just tender. Transfer immediately to a colander and rinse under really cold water. This stops the beans from cooking further.
Heat a small frypan and spray with olive oil. Toss in the bacon strips and the chopped eschalot and saute until the eschalot pieces are golden and the bacon is cooked. Remove the eschalot and bacon from the pan. Melt the butter in the frypan, then add the beans, bacon and eschalot and heat briefly, until the beans are warm. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange the beans in a dish, sprinkle with the parsley and serve. Serves 4-6.
*My recipe is adapted from Le Cordon Bleu Vegetables, 1997.
+According to the original recipe, adding the salt to the boiling water at the same time as the beans creates 'a fast bubble which helps to fix the chlorophyll' and thus maintains the vibrant green colour of the beans.