This green bean dish is mildly creamy, thanks to a quick blanching in milk, which also sweetens the beans slightly. A garnish of toasted chopped hazelnuts adds a lovely nutty crunch. This recipe appeared with Irene Sax's piece "Small Wonders" (November 2008), a tribute to Thanksgiving side dishes—though we think it works well anytime of year.
- 4 cups milk
- 2 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 2 lb. green beans
- 1⁄3 lb. pancetta, diced
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp. chopped mint
- 4 tbsp. chopped parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
Bring milk, 4 cups water, 2 tbsp. of kosher salt, and sugar to a boil in a 6-qt. saucepan.
Trim green beans and add to saucepan; cook until crisp–tender, 5–6 minutes. Drain, reserving 1⁄3 cup cooking liquid. Chill beans in ice water. Drain; set aside.
Meanwhile, combine pancetta and 1 1⁄2 cups water in a 12" skillet; cook over medium heat until water evaporates and pancetta crisps, about 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a plate, leaving 1 tbsp. fat in skillet. Place skillet over high heat and add beans and reserved cooking liquid; cook until liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.
Add butter and 2 tbsp. each chopped mint and parsley. Cook until butter melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a platter; sprinkle with pancetta, hazelnuts, and remaining chopped mint and parsley.