What makes this recipe Cajun? My grandmother does. She taught me how to “smother“ snap beans when I was a pre-teen. Her family was from Ville Platte, a small city in Evangeline Parish, Louisiana, where, back in the day, English took a back seat to Cajun French. I can still remember the sweet smell of the caramelized onions and the chooka-chooka-chooka sounds of her jiggle-top pressure cooker. Her recipe featured pickle meat, a staple in the Creole/Cajun kitchen, and was served over Mahatma Long-Grain Rice, which was the only acceptable rice in a Cajun household. (Uncle Ben’s or Minute Rice? Psshhhh!)
Believe it or not, pickle meat is mighty delicious, but it’s not Primal- or Paleo-diet friendly. So, my Smothered Cajun Snap Beans feature a Paleo-friendly bacon. I have used both Pederson’s Natural Farms No Sugar Hickory Smoked Bacon, which is available at Whole Foods, and US Wellness Meats’ Sugar Free Pork Bacon, which is available online, but for this recipe, I prefer Pederson’s. Although I’m a big fan of Cauliflower Rice, it really doesn’t work as a base for this recipe. I usually just serve my Smothered Cajun Snap Beans straight up, but if I’m in a nostalgic frame of mind, I’ll serve it over Lundenberg Organic and Non-GMO White Long Grain Rice, which is just as good as Mahatma’s. (Forgive me, Maw-Maw!).
Use a large colander to give your beans a good rinse and let them drip dry. Once dry, it’s time to start snappin’! Each bean gets snapped twice, once on each end. Hold the bean firmly in one hand and use your thumb on the other hand to snap the end off. The snapped off ends are discarded and the snapped bean goes into a large bowl. You could also use kitchen shears to snip off the ends, but that’s not the way of the Cajuns! Whichever method you choose, make sure that you do not skip this step! The ends of the beans (particularly the end with the stem) are very tough and cooking them doesn’t make them softer. When I was in my early 20s, I made a big ol’ pot of Smothered Cajun Snap Beans without the snap or the snip because 20-something year-olds know better than their grandmothers (sigh). I ended up having to snip each end of the bean off post-cooking in order to salvage the batch. The process of “smothering” renders the beans EXTREMELY soft with the bacon juices pulled through every fiber—mmmmm. Delicious to eat, but a pain in the rear-end to snip. Imagine cutting individual stands of cooked spaghetti.
Once those beans are snapped or snipped, put them aside. Dice the bacon into 1/2 inch slices and put aside. Peel and mince the garlic and dice the onions and put aside. For five pounds of beans, you will need a large pressure cooker. I use the Kuhn Rikon 12-Quart Duromatic Stockpot Pressure Cooker, which is super expensive, but worth every penny! I use it several times a week. (If you are patient, you could put in a price alert request at www.camelcamelcamel.com and wait for a notification that your target price is available. I once got a Staub 9-Quart Round Cocotte, which retails for $360+, for $110 using camelcamelcamel!) If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can use a large, heavy bottom stockpot, but you will need to babysit over a very low flame, increase cooking time to 90 minutes and add additional stock in small amounts, as necessary, to keep the pot from scorching.
Heat the pressure cooker (or stockpot) over a high flame and add diced bacon. Sauté bacon, stirring frequently, until bacon fat is released. Add onions and garlic, stirring frequently, until soft–about 3 minutes. Pour in stock, salt and pepper. Add beans on top. Cover. If using a pressure cooker, leave flame on high until pot is under high pressure, then reduce flame to maintain high pressure (on my stove, I need to reduce to a low flame) and let beans cook at high pressure for 30 minutes followed by a natural release. If using a stockpot, reduce flame to low/medium and let simmer with lid on for 90 minutes, checking liquid levels and adjusting, as needed, every 15 minutes. If it is necessary to add stock, add it in small increments (1/4 cup or less), as the technique of “smothering” requires very little liquid. Once done, adjust salt and pepper to taste and enjoy your Smothered Cajun Snap Beans!
- 5 lbs fresh crisp green beans, cleaned and snapped (or, if you prefer, snipped)
- 2 large or 3 medium white onions, diced
- 1 10 oz package of paleo friendly bacon, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1½ tsp. pink Himalayan salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
- ½ cup chicken or vegetable stock
- Heat the pressure cooker (or stockpot) over a high flame and add diced bacon.
- Sauté bacon, stirring frequently, until bacon fat is released.
- Add onions and garlic, stirring frequently, until soft--about 3 minutes.
- Pour in stock, salt and pepper.
- Add beans on top.
- If using a pressure cooker, leave flame on high until pot is under high pressure, then reduce flame to maintain high pressure (on my stove, I need to reduce to a low flame) and let beans cook at high pressure for 30 minutes followed by a natural release.
- If using a stockpot, reduce flame to low/medium and let simmer with lid on for 90 minutes, checking liquid levels and adjusting, as needed, every 15 minutes. If it is necessary to add stock, add it in small increments (1/4 cup or less), as the technique of "smothering" requires very little liquid.
- Once done, adjust salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!