This Thanksgiving, why not try a twist on your green beans? Delicious as green bean casserole is, it can get lost among the other rich dishes on the table. These green beans with crispy pancetta keep just the right level of indulgence (hello pancetta!), but let the green beans and their bright vegetal flavor sit front and center.
Every family Thanksgiving table looks different. Beyond the trifecta of turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes there’s delicious variety. Some do candied sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. Others, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie. You might find carrots or pecan pie on some tables, while yet others go for apple pie and roasted beets. Wherever you find yourself on Thanksgiving, it’s bound to be delicious.
At my family’s table, we swapped these tasty green beans with crispy pancetta for the classic green bean casserole and haven’t looked back. Admittedly, we never had green bean casserole on the table to begin with. I don’t actually know why, but I’m not complaining since this dish is bright, delicious, and rich without being heavy, so I can pile it on my plate without sacrificing mashed potato or stuffing quantities.
What’s more, these green beans with crispy pancetta are even more simple than their casserole counterpart to whip up. They can even be prepped the day ahead and then reheated quickly on the stovetop just in time for the big meal. Alternatively, they taste just fine at room temperature. No muss, no fuss.
I like to use pancetta for its sweet, salty flavor punch. You can, of course, use bacon or guanciale and the dish will be equally delicious. The key to bright, delicious green beans is to par boil them. By cooking them in well salted boiling water for a few minutes – then shocking them in a bath of ice water – you get them perfectly cooked and halt the cooking process in time to preserve their beautiful color. There’s just something about overcooked yellowish green beans that I just can’t abide.
After cooking and rendering the pancetta fat, the green beans get cooked for just a minute or so in the lovely fat so they are warmed up and just starting to take on a touch of color. It’s just that simple.
If you’re looking for a simple but delicious swap, or perhaps a brand new addition to your Thanksgiving table, you can’t go wrong with these green beans with crispy pancetta.
A simple, flavorful side dish made delicious with some crispy pancetta!
- 1.5 pounds green beans (I prefer haricot vert, or French green beans, for their delicate texture), ends trimmed
- 4 oz pancetta, diced
- Kosher salt
- In a skillet, cook the pancetta over medium-high heat until crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain, keeping the rendered fat in the skillet for later use
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. When boiling, add the green beans and cook 2-5 minutes until crisp tender. Cook time will depend on thickness. Haricot vert typically need less time, while large green beans will need more time (the beans pictured took close to 5 minutes)
- While the green beans cook, place ice in a large bowl and cover with cold water for the ice bath. When the green beans are done, quickly strain them then dump them in the ice bath to stop the cooking process
- When ready to serve and eat the green beans, return the skillet with the pancetta fat to medium heat. Add in the cooked green beans and pancetta and sauté for 1-2 minutes, until warmed through and the green beans are just starting to take on color
- Serve immediately or at room temperature for delicious results
Keywords: green beans, side dish, thanksgiving, green beans with crispy pancetta