Long cooking vegetables is something of a lost art, probably because so many people associate it with a mushy result. But it is actually a delicious method of cooking vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, or summer squash, particularly mature specimens that have lingered until the end of their season.
Long cooking calls for a very low temperature and lots of olive oil to bring out all of the natural sweetness of the vegetable. Your vegetables are done when they’re so soft they are nearly impossible to lift from the oil, and they are an earthy shade of green. That’s when they’re at their tastiest and sweetest. This is a rich side dish and should be served with something simple, like Seared Duck Breasts or Lamb Loin Chops).
I cannot overstate the importance of keeping the oil over very low heat; too high and you’ll fry the vegetables. If you have a high-powered stove, invest in a diffuser to temper the heat. If the flame on your stove top goes out at the lowest setting, transfer the pot to a low oven (250°F) instead. Because the oil never gets hot enough to break down or denature, you can store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months and use it again for long-cooking vegetables.
- Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
- 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife blade
- 10.125 pounds green beans, trimmed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Warm the oil in a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot over very low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and allow it to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the green beans and salt and cook, tossing frequently, until the color along the edges of the beans begins to brighten, 5 to 7 minutes. The beans should be almost (but not quite) submerged in the oil; add a splash more oil if necessary.
- Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook until the beans are very tender and nearly (but not quite) falling apart, about 1 hour. Check frequently to make sure the oil temperature is low enough to cook the beans very slowly. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, gently remove beans from the oil and serve immediately.