Cooking green beans for more than a few seconds goes against everything I thought I knew, but this recipe for southern style green beans is actually amazing. These beans are stewed for about 2 hours and result in one of the tastiest side dishes I know. Of course, southern cooking does tend to be quite satisfying!
This recipe is actually very simple. And while it may not look very pretty, the taste is phenomenal. All in all it’s your typical American South style fare – a focus more on taste than looks, but still deeply satisfying.
I have a few cooked green bean recipes like the Thanksgiving classic Green Bean Casserole as well as blended in a warming Green Soup, but this is by far the most cooked format I’ve done. This southern style green beans recipe is also great around the holidays, or when serving large groups of family and friends.
How To Cook Southern Style Green Beans
For this recipe the key ingredient is fat, and lots of it. I’m using both bacon and salo, the latter of which is a Ukrainian pork fatback which is quite similar to what would be used in the American south. Of course, you can use purely bacon if you cannot find fatback.
500 grams (about one pound) Green Beans – you can use fresh or frozen green beans. I like using frozen cut beans because it takes away a lot of effort and they taste the same.
4 strips Bacon
50 grams Salo – aka cured pork fat or fatback. Can also use lard or other pork fat product if it’s easier to find.
1 liter (4 cups) Chicken Stock – store bought or homemade, just take notice of how salty the stock is so you don’t overdo it.
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Red Chili Flakes
Black Pepper – freshly cracked, to taste
Salt – to taste, this recipe is essentially cooked in chicken stock, so if your stock is already salty you might not want to add salt before tasting it.
50 grams Butter – optional
If you can’t find fat back or another type of cured pork fat, don’t worry. Just double the amount of bacon. If you can find it, I highly recommend using it as it imparts great porky flavor, and tastes delicious as cooked bits in the final southern style green beans recipe.
In a pot add your bacon and salo and turn the heat on medium-high. You want the fat to render out while also cooking the meat. The longer you cook the more crispy the bits will get, but note that bacon and fatback have different cooking times. I also add in the chili flakes here to fry them a bit in the hot melted fat.
Once the fat bits are cooked to where you like them, add in the green beans. Also add in your chicken stock, black pepper, and garlic powder. Give everything a mix then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and place the lid on top. Let stew for about 2 hours.
After two hours you will notice the beans have lost their vibrant green color. They have also gotten very soft.
Drain your green beans and mix them with the butter. This is optional, but I do think the butter mixes well with the remainder of the stock they cooked in and makes a rich sauce to coat them.
You can test if they need more salt here and adjust accordingly. As my chicken stock was homemade and meant specifically for this dish, I had made it salty enough so I didn’t need to add any at the end.
How To Personalize Southern Style Green Beans
This recipe for southern style green beans makes an excellent side dish. Whether you are bringing it to a potluck or serving it during Thanksgiving, you might want to make it your own. Here are a few options to customize this recipe to your tastes.
Add Hot Sauce. If you don’t find the chili flakes bring the heat, add a few drops (or more) of your favorite hot sauce. I love using just a few drops of my homemade Carolina Reaper hot sauce, but if I’m serving guests I can go for a more mild Guajillo Hot Sauce instead.
Use Cream and Cheese. Replace the butter with a few tablespoons of heavy cream and some grated parmesan. This makes a richer, more heavy sauce. It’s not authentically southern, but does taste good.
Adjust Seasonings. While this is always an option, here are some choices. Add some basil and oregano for a more Italian style dish. Or a bit of za’atar works for a middle eastern flavor profile. Even though the dish is inherently southern, you can get creative in your own way.
Southern Style Green Beans
- 1 Pot | I use a Dutch oven as the thicker walls and lid provide a better cooking experience. You can use a thinner pot but give it a stir every 15 mins or so to prevent any beans sticking and burning on the bottom
- 500 grams Green Beans – about one pound, you can use fresh or frozen green beans. I like using frozen cut beans because it takes away a lot of effort and they taste the same.
- 4 strips Bacon
- 50 grams Salo aka cured pork fat or fatback. Can also use lard or other pork fat product if it's easier to find.
- 1 liter Chicken Stock 4 cups, store bought or homemade, just take notice of how salty the stock is so you don't overdo it.
- 2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Red Chili Flakes
- Black Pepper freshly cracked, to taste
- Salt to taste, this recipe is essentially cooked in chicken stock, so if your stock is already salty you might not want to add salt before tasting it.
- 50 grams Butter optional
- Chop your bacon and fatback and add it to the pot on medium heat. Render the fat until desired, and allow the pork to crisp up as much as you want. Add the red chili flakes directly to the hot fat so they bloom
- Add the beans and chicken stock and garlic powder and black pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling lower to the lowest heat, place the lid, and let stew for 2 hours.
- Drain the beans and mix with butter in a chafing dish. Taste for salt and add more as needed. Serve and enjoy!
Southern Style Green Beans
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