Green Beans with Pancetta and Mint

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.

Green Beans with Pancetta and Mint Green Beans with Pancetta and Mint
This green bean dish is mildly creamy, thanks to a quick blanching in milk, which also slightly sweetens the beans. A garnish of toasted chopped hazelnuts adds a lovely nutty crunch.
Yield: serves 6

Ingredients

  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 lb. green beans
  • 13 lb. pancetta, diced
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp. chopped mint
  • 4 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts

Instructions

  1. Bring milk, 4 cups water, 2 tbsp. of kosher salt, and sugar to a boil in a 6-qt. saucepan.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.