Recipe: French green beans by Michelle Palmer

Dress up French green beans with the addition of garlic, onion and bacon.

Dress up French green beans with the addition of garlic, onion and bacon.

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When Linda asked me to write an article over a month ago, I thought I have a lot to think about. There are so many topics when it comes to food. Everybody loves a good green bean.

Green beans, otherwise known as snap or string beans, are the most popular edible pod bean in the United States. The lima bean is the most common shell bean sold in the United States. Green beans originated in Peru and spread to South and Central America by way of the migrating Indian tribes. Haricots verts, French for “green beans,” also known as French beans, French green beans, French filet beans, or fine beans (British English), is a variety of green beans that is longer, thinner, crisper, and more tender than “standard” green beans. Which are not always available! It’s different from the haricot bean, which is sold as a dried seed.

Many but not all bean pods contain a “string,” a hard fibrous strand running the length of the pod. This is often removed before cooking, or it may be made edible by cutting the pod into short segments. The first “stingless” bean was bred in 1894 by Calvin Keeney.

My French grandmother always made her green beans and Hasselback potatoes for various holidays. The two childhood foods from that side of the family were my favorites. My mom was the first born in the United States. My grandparents came via Ellis Island and became U.S. citizens. They both fluently spoke many languages, including English, speaking little French now.

Now I carry on the tradition and make them for holidays, too. I think about the smell of the food cooking in the house as long as I can remember. Plus I remember watching the spit twirl around with the leg of lamb cooking with the drip try underneath to catch the drippings to make the gravy. I can almost smell it now coming from the barbecue building in Temple City, Calif.

This recipe I’m going to share today comes from my French grandma, my mom’s mom, Jeanne Alice Louise Pinon, from Lyon, France. I’ve been making these green beans for at least 42 years. They’re a side dish that goes with most anything. Try them. I bet they will become one of the most asked for dishes from you family and friends. Everybody loves a good French green bean!

Grandma’s French Green Beans


1 pound fresh crisp green beans, trimmed

1 sweet onion, medium julienne chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 pound peppered bacon in 1/2-inch slices

1/4 pound sweet butter

1/2 Cup fresh spring water

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Kosher salt, to taste


Layer ingredients in a 10-inch sauteuse pan. First sprinkle onion, bacon, garlic, then a layer of green beans, and lightly add black pepper and kosher salt. Then add onion, bacon, garlic, then a layer of green beans, light black pepper and kosher salt. Finishing with onion, bacon, garlic, black pepper, and kosher salt. Dot the butter all around the top.

Pour half a cup fresh spring water into the pan. Cover and cook over medium heat till the beans are al’dente.

Michelle Palmer, has been cooking in the area for over three decades, Owner of Absolutely Michelle’s Chef-for-Hire, Artisan Eats Gluten Free Cookie company, Culinary expert Williams-Sonoma, Nevada licensed Culinary educator, ACF Chef of the year 2000, former dessert maker Adele’s, former Nevada Governors’ Mansion Chef, Corporate chef for Thermador & Bosch. 775/849-2333


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