We love green beans cooked just about any way, but there is nothing better than fresh green beans right out of the garden cooked with new potatoes and garnished with bacon and onion. This is one of those things that some southerners might refer to as a mess...as in, "I picked me a mess a green beans out of the garden this morning" It's debatable just how much 'a mess' is, but I have always taken it to mean enough for a meal. I used to hear my mother use this term a lot when I was a kid, especially when someone had gone fishing, she would always ask, "Did you get you a mess of fish?" when they got back. Being the analytic kid that always asked too many questions, I asked her one day why she used the the word mess and how much was a mess. Her answer was that it was enough for a meal. I asked her how a mess for one family could be the same as a mess for another, because her family growing up had 13 people in it, our family only had 4 people in it. How could a mess be the same thing for both? Her answer to me was very simple and so Mama, "For my family growing up, that was a big ole mess, for our family now, that's a little ole mess." lol That answer worked. This recipe is a more of a 'big ole mess', cook half as many for a 'little ole mess'.
2-3 lbs. fresh green beans, washed and broken with strings removed.
3-4 slices bacon
1 medium Vidalia onion
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
2-3 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
9-10 small red potatoes
With your kitchen shears or a knife cut your bacon in pieces and brown in a dutch oven. I like to use my cast iron dutch oven for this.
Chop the onion and put the chopped onion and the Tbs. of garlic in the bacon drippings. There won't be a lot of drippings from that much bacon and that's fine, you want just enough to season the beans, not have them swimming in it. Saute until just soft.
Add the green beans to the hot bacon drippings and sauteed onion/garlic mixture and stir to coat them. Add the salt and black pepper.
Add 2-3 cups of chicken broth or just enough to cover the beans. You can use canned or the chicken bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low, cook on low and covered for about 30 to 40 minutes. Don't cook on heat set too high or they will scorch.
Wash the potatoes and if they are really small, just peel a strip right around the center. If they are little bigger, like mine were, halve them or quarter them and place them on top of the beans. Sprinkle the potatoes with a little salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 30-40 more minutes or until fork tender. It's important to not overcook the green beans. They should still be 'green' at the end of the cooking time, but it's also important to not under cook them. Fresh green beans need time to cook on low heat, remember that unlike canned beans, they haven't been processed at all.
Once the potatoes are cooked, give the whole pot a stir to mix the potatoes, beans and cooking liquid. Taste for seasoning. You might need to sprinkle with a dash more salt and pepper depending on how many beans you cooked. Sprinkle with the reserved bacon. You have 'Southern Green Beans with New Potatoes and Bacon"!
COOKING TIP: If you don't have fresh green beans and want to use canned, and you want them to taste more like fresh, drain all of the canning liquid off of the beans and rinse them. Then follow this recipe as directed, but cut the cooking time in half and reduce the salt to taste, since the canned beans have already been processed.