The minute I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it. Locally-grown green beans, served in season and topped with a savoury sabayon. It had 'classic' written all over it.
The ingredients were easy to find, and I had almost everything I needed. But I hesitated when I got to champagne vinegar. With all the vinegar I had in my cupboard, at least one had to be champagne vinegar, right?
And how many bottles of vinegar did I have in that cupboard, anyhow?
I'm mortified to say that I counted them and found 11 (eleven). Several were repeats, so it's not like I owned eleven different varieties. But still - eleven?
And how many of those eleven bottles do you think were made from champagne? You'd be right if you guessed a number that rhymes with hero. But the only hero I wanted to see was one bearing an apron instead of a cape, and a bottle of champagne vinegar tucked under an arm.
I like to think I'm a person of restraint, and the idea of going out and buying a twelfth bottle was more than I could bear. So I took a chance on the white-wine vinegar that nestled halfway back in that cupboard, and was amply rewarded with this wonderful side dish. Don't let its simplicity fool you - this is one of the loveliest ways I've ever eaten green beans. And if you're anything like my family, you'll eat them faster than a speeding bullet. Super(hero) food, indeed.
Green Beans with Tarragon-Lemon Sabayon
(from The Broad Fork, by Hugh Acheson)
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 cup sparkling wine
1 Tbsp champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
Prepare an ice water bath and place it near the stove. Bring 2 quarts of water to a vigorous boil in a pot, and add enough kosher salt to make it pleasantly salty.
Add the beans to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, or until just tender. Drain, plunge the beans into the ice bath to stop the cooking, and then transfer the cooled beans to a plate lined with a paper towel.
In a medium bowl, whip the cream to form soft peaks, and set aside.
Find a medium metal bowl that can nestle into a saucepan or double boiler. Pour 2 inches of water into the saucepan and heat it over medium heat until it steams. Put the egg yolks, lemon zest, sparkling wine, vinegar, and a generous pinch of kosher salt in the metal bowl and place it on the saucepan, making sure the bowl doesn't directly touch the water. Whisk vigorously until the liquid foams and then thickens into a custard, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue whisking. Cool the custard in the fridge, lightly covered, and then remove from the fridge, and fold in the whipped cream and the tarragon.
Arrange the beans on a platter and top with the sabayon, parsley and chives. Serve immediately.