Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sautéed Green Beans and Potatoes, Walloon Style

This is a recipe from my part of the world - walloon country, the French-speaking portion of Belgium (some 4 million people out of a total 10 - the rest speak Flemish).

Traditionally, this recipe uses bacon, frying it in a pan first until it's crisp. Those who follow me know I rarely if ever use bacon (too fat) and instead replace it with strips of ham, usually the smoked variety (Speck will do very nicely), and fry it in a teflon-coated pan (no butter or oil added!) until crisp.

This is a wonderful recipe that can serve as a main dish if you're in the mood for a fast, light meal and it's especially nice on rainy days. Just looking at it lifts the spirits! Incidentally, the picture above was taken by none other than...little me (after I'd eaten half my portion! It was so good it took me a while to remember to take a photo...)

Here's the recipe for 4 people.


500 g (approx one pound) of green beans, cleaned (strings pulled off please!) and cut in half if very long;
300g  potatoes peeled and cut in sticks like for French fries
1 cup cream (or what I do here in Italy: Mascarpone with a little milk to make it creamy)
200 g smoked ham cut in strips and pan-fried until crisp
Pepper and salt to taste (careful with the salt: the ham will probably give the dish enough salt as is)


1. First cook the vegetables. You can do this using steam - that's what I do, I prefer steaming to boiling in salt water, I think it maintains better the taste of vegetables, but it really is up to you - whatever you're most comfortable doing. The main thing though is NOT to overcook the vegetables - the potatoes, sure, they need to be tender but shouldn't fall apart. And the green beans can even be a little crisp, they will resist better the next step in the recipe, which is pan frying.

2. Now quick-fry all the ingredients - green beans, potatoes and crisp ham (or bacon) - in a pan. A wok will do nicely or any pan that looks nice and that you can bring to the table: the warmer the dish is served, the better it will taste.

3. Once the vegetables are nice and warm, add the cream (or Mascarpone and milk), stir and serve. Finish off with freshly-grounded pepper for extra taste.

Yummy! And so simple to do...
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