I grew up eating stuffing out of a box. I’m not ashamed to admit that I loved the stuff, either. It had to be Paxo and it HAD to be the sage and onion “flavor”, regardless of whatever meat was on the table. It just did. I had systems to adhere to. Still do. Sure, if I ate it now I’d probably hate it, but that’s the advantage of living in a country where it doesn’t exist. It’s impossible to burst the nostalgia bubble. I remember it as a gloriously over-tasty staple to a roast dinner and that is the way it gets to stay. So there!
So, sage and onion. Pretty classic combination. Because it’s delicious, duh. Although there probably wasn’t any real sage or (non-freeze-dried) onion in the box. Now you were supposed to eat that particular “flavor” with chicken, despite my aforementioned fanaticism and the fact that the new fancy packaging no longer says “perfect for chicken”. Since it’s coming up to Christmas and apparently I’m supposed to make green beans of some kind because it’s traditional, this was what I came up with, a little riff on my former boxed-food-love using chicken to make the crumbs. Don’t judge me.
Now, these are not quite the texture of real breadcrumbs for obvious reasons. But they ARE superloaded with flavor that just gets better and better over time. When toasted, the flavors are even more heightened. These little crumbs are, in fact, strangely addictive and taste great the next day sprinkled over a salad or some eggs. If you have any leftovers. Or you haven’t eaten them straight out of the fridge with a spoon.
I have no beef (ahahahaha) with eating green beans occasionally on Paleo. They don’t bother me in any way and the Whole30 peeps claim they’re cool ‘cause they’re more pod than bean. I’m not the Paleo Police, eat what you want. This HAS to be better than a standard holiday green bean “casserole” by miles!
First off, heat a skillet with a little oil and cook your chicken until it’s just done. Take it off the heat, throw it in a mini food processor and pulse it carefully until you have breadcrumb sized, well, crumbs. Don’t be impatient and end up with puree. That won’t help. Set it aside for now.
Add your onion, sage and garlic powder to the pan you just used to cook the chicken, adding a little extra oil first if you need to do so.
When the onion is softened and the sage is all fragrant-lovely, add the onions to a bowl large enough for all the ingredients except the green beans. Add the chicken to the same bowl.
Zest your lemon and throw that in there too, saving the juice for later.
Then mix to combine, along with the almond flour. This smells really good already!
Once everything is mixed, add it back to the pan over a low-medium heat and cook until the mixture takes on a little color. Not too high or long, else you have burned chicken. Not so yummy.
Now, at this point you can use these just fine. See?
But if you want to really concentrate the nommily flavor (yup, that’s a word), then spread out the crumbs on a clean dry baking sheet…
…and broil those suckers until they look really toasty. Keep an eye on them, obviously, and take them out once they’re looking gooooood like this.
Put the crumbs aside and add your green beans to a pot of boiling water. When they’re done – if you like ’em still a little crunchy, 5 – 7 minutes is perfect – drain those beans and add them to a large bowl. Add whatever amount of fresh lemon juice and olive oil makes you happy and then toss to coat. Plate the beans and sprinkle them liberally – nah, gratuitously – with those deliciously seasoned crumbs and serve!
Fun fact: you can save these crumbs and keep ’em in the fridge for sprinkling on whatever you fancy. And if you want to make the green beans the next day or whenever, that will work for you. Or, you can cook the beans, blanch them in an ice bath…
…and either serve cold or reheat them when you want them and sprinkle with crumbs. Easy and versatile!
- Heat a little oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the ground chicken once the oil is hot. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with the back of a spoon, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes or so. Don't overcook as the meat will dry out.
- Remove the chicken from the pan, add it to a mini food processor and pulse until breadcrumb sized. Don't puree it! Set aside.
- Add the diced onion and herbs to the pan you used to cook the chicken, adding a little more oil if needed. Soften the onion and remove the skillet from the heat.
- Add the onion & herb mixture to the ground chicken in a bowl large enough to combine all ingredients except the green beans.
- Add the almond flour and lemon zest to the bowl; mix to combine evenly.
- Return the skillet to the heat with enough oil to cover the pan thinly. Add the crumb mixture and cook until it colors - don't have the heat too high or it will burn.
- Optional step: remove the crumbs from the skillet and spread them out on a clean dry baking tray. Broil for a minute or two until they are toasted, watching carefully to make sure they don't burn.
- Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add the beans and cook for 5 - 7 minutes, until cooked through but still crunchy.
- Drain and add to large bowl. Add lemon juice and olive oil to taste, then toss until evenly coated. Top with the crumbs and serve.
- Blanch the beans in ice water when just undercooked. Refrigerate until needed and reheat them in a skillet with a little oil for a few minutes. Remove from heat, toss with lemon juice and olive oil to taste, them top with the crumbs to serve.
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