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Where's the best green bean casserole? Try Houston

November 23, 2011|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Deal and Travel blogger
  • Max's Wine Dive in Houston makes an elevated form of green bean casserole as a Thanksgiving to-go dish.
Max's Wine Dive in Houston makes an elevated form of green bean casserole… (Max's Wine Dive )

Houston might be green bean casserole heaven. Where else would chefs work hard to provide an upscale (read: adult) version of the gloppy Thanksgiving staple made from canned mushroom soup, milk, green beans and French-fried onions.

"It's a standard in the South," Executive Chef Mike Potowski at Benjy's in Houston explains. "If you don't offer it, it's taking something away from Thanksgiving dinner."

And offer it he does, but not in the "traditional" way. Potowski makes his dish with local green beans blanched in saltwater and forest mushrooms blended with an aromatic bechamel sauce topped with home-fried onion rings. The dish sits alongside Fennel bourbon-glazed turkey, spiced carrot soup and other gourmet fare at Benjy's Thanksgiving dinner ($38 per person, excluding tax and tip).

Chef Michael Pellegrino at Max's Wine Dive in Houston also has rethought the classic GBC.

"We use shallots, chanterelles, morels and oyster mushrooms," Pellegrino says in ticking off fresh ingredients in his version of the side dish. "It's the food you ate as a child but elevated to entertain your palate."

Max's is closed on Thanksgiving but will fill a 2-quart casserole on Wednesday with what's called Not Your Momma's Green Bean Casserole for $30. It's a shortcut that allows you to arrive at Aunt Martha's with a hot dish -- and a welcome surprise.

Benjy's, 5922 Washington Ave., Houston; (713) 868-1131
Max's Wine Dive, 4720 Washington Ave., Houston; (713) 880-8737

Do you have a green bean casserole favorite? Tell us in the comments section below.

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