These three components can be prepared and eaten by themselves, but for this reconstructed casserole, I decided to use roasted green beans for the first layer, followed by salmon chowder as the sauce, topped with Parmesan crisps. A basic cream soup can be made with any stock, so long as the result contains roux and cream or half-and-half. Salmon stock has a rich, unctuous texture that combines well with cream and works beautifully with vegetables. Swap out the salmon bones for chicken to have an excellent filling for pot pies or chicken and dumplings. I like to use stocks and soups as a way to repurpose leftovers, which is why this particular recipe contains roasted red peppers, potatoes, and sweet corn from a recent dinner. My Midwestern friends aver that any green bean casserole must be topped with canned fried onions, but Parmesan crisps are a delicious substitute and admirably fulfill the role of savory crisp topping. More pragmatically for the home cook, they’re easier to make than fried onions. A silicone baking mat makes it a snap, but a metal cookie sheet lined with parchment paper also works fine.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss the beans with olive oil, then squeeze half a lemon over top. Season with salt and pepper. Mix, spread on a cookie sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Remove, toss the beans, and roast for an additional 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 200°F. Fill a 3½-quart Dutch oven with salmon bones (get at least one head from your butcher/fishmonger, if you can), vegetable ends, a chunk of ginger the length of your thumb, and a few bay leaves and black peppercorns. On the stovetop, bring to a gentle simmer. Then remove and place in the oven for at least four hours. Overnight if possible.
- Melt the butter in a stockpot. Add the flour and toast till blonde, stirring frequently. Add the sliced onion and minced garlic. Mix well, lower heat, and cover to let the onions sweat out some moisture. When the onions have gone limp and just begun to brown, deglaze with the wine. Have the stock at the ready, adding a little at a time, stirring as you go. The mixture will thicken quickly and burn unless constantly stirred. Keep stirring and keep adding until all the stock has been added. Add the bacon and salmon. You can stop here if you like, or if you—like me—have leftovers in need of a second act, they can be added here. Reduce heat to allow flavors to meld, then add the half-and-half.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Take grated Parmesan a pinch at a time and drop on the sheet, spacing as though making cookies. Each section crisp should be about a tablespoon of grated cheese. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool.
- Once all three are finished, combine on the plate, rather than in the oven. Layer a stratum of green beans, liberally sauce with chowder, then top with a Parmesan crisp or two. Serve hot. Is it like Grandma used to make? No. But then again, all Grandma did was open some cans.
Premium aged, naturally aromatic, produced in a facility that also uses soy, nuts, dairy, and gluten: these are a few of the words that might be used to describe Cirrus Wood. Or they may just be something he read off a bag of basmati rice he had in the pantry because he didn’t know what to write here. Cirrus is a freelance writer and photographer living in Berkeley, California. His writing has appeared in McSweeneys, to do lists, old year books, and the missed connection section of Craigslist, where he writes personally addressed messages to the drivers who cut him off in traffic.