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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spicy String Beans a la Moi

Here we go. As promised, I want to share recipes (or at least awesome descriptions) of all the food we had at the shindig on Saturday night. I've got some guest bloggers coming up, so I'll start out with the "blackened" string beans, made by me. (I say "blackened" because Ric's original recipe calls for these to be blackened in a screaming, white-hot cast iron pan. I don't have one big enough for this, so I just get a HUGE stainless steel pan really really hot.)

As I said, these are an adaptation on Ric Orlando's incredible Blackened String Beans dish. I originally changed up the recipe due to what existed in my pantry, but now, four tries later, these are the definitive recipes I will use each and every time. These string beans are a great appetizer or side, but just make sure you have LOTS of napkins out for your guests. They get messy, in the best possible way. They combine the awesomeness of a slightly undercooked (aka crunchy) veggie mixed with some great heat and a creamy delicious dipping sauce. For me, they are perfect!

And as we found out at the Oscar party the next night, they reheat amazingly and the remoulade only gets better with a few days in the fridge.

A healthy, spicy, makes you look a total rockstar in the kitchen vegetable dish? Um, YES PLEASE!

**Warning: These will smoke the HELL out of your kitchen. If you don't have a great vent above your stove, open windows, doors, turn on ceiling fans, and be prepared. There is a good deal of smoke (maybe disconnect your smoke detector until your done) but don't be worried! Just deal with it--it's oh so worth it!**

"Blackened" String Beans
2 lbs fresh string beans, stems picked off
2 tbsp light colored oil--I really like grapeseed for this, or Zoya. Something light in color.

Spice Mix:
1 1/2 tsp cayenne
3 tsp pasilla or ancho chili powder (if you don't have, you can skip--I did the first time)
1 tsp dried oregano
3 tsp kosher salt
3 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp paprkia
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder--not granulated

Mix spice mix together in a bowl, and set aside.
Blanche string beans--place in boiling water for only about 30 seconds to 1 minute, until they are bright green and still crisp.
Remove and drain, but don't rinse. 
Put beans in a bowl big enough to toss them in, add the oil and spice mix and toss to coat beans very well!
Set aside--I let them sit while I get the pan ready.

When you're ready to cook them (basically when you're ready to serve them) place a skillet large enough to contain the beans on the stove, over high heat.
Let the pan get very, very, very hot--about 10 minutes worth of sitting there, dry, heating.
Dump in the beans and shake them around. (If your pan is small, do this in batches so as not to crowd the pan.)
Using tongs, move them around to make sure they're getting evenly "blackened."
I like to get a bit of a char on the beans, so shake and toss them around for about 2-4 minutes, until they look done. Feel free to check them as you go!

Serve the beans mounded on a great platter/bowl, and serve with the Mustard Remoulade.

2 TBSP paprika
3/4 TBSP hot sauce (I used Louisiana, you could do Tabasco or Frank's. Something vinegar-based though, nothing too thick like a Mexican hot sauce.)
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/3 C dijon mustard
1/4 C grainy mustard
1/2 C mayo (I use Olive Oil Mayo)
1 tsp Old Bay
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
1 TBSP finely minced onion (just cut off a small piece of an onion)
2 scallions, finely minced
1 celery stalk, finely minced
1 C light colored oil--use same as you use for beans

In food processor (or blender if you don't have) combine all ingredients except the oil and process very well. 
With machine running, add the oil in a steady stream to combine.
Taste, and adjust seasonings. If it's too mustard-tasting, add a bit more mayo.

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