Blanching the beans first serves two purposes. It's part of the cooking process, but also it keeps the beans fresh and bright green and appetising looking. First bring some heavily salted water to the boil (the salt is important to keep the colour) and bung the beans in for a few minutes. Then refresh them by draining and popping them into a bowl of cold, preferably iced, water. This stops the cooking process in its tracks and prevents your beans from being overdone (nobody likes a has-bean - geddit!)
Whiskied Green Beans (serves 2-4 as a side dish)
- 200g green beans, topped and tailed
- 50g pancetta or streaky bacon, diced
- 1/2 a small onion
- A splash of whiskey
- A knob of butter
- A small handful of toasted pinenuts
- First blanch the green beans. Bring some heavily salted water to the boil, and blanch for 4 minutes. Refresh in iced water, drain and set to one side.
- Fry the bacon or pancetta until nice and crispy. Set to one side, keeping some of the bacon fat in the pan.
- Cook the onion in the bacon fat until soft but not coloured.
- Throw in a good splash of whiskey. Let it bubble away until there is only a little liquid left.
- Add the drained beans, pancetta, a good knob of butter and a sprinkling of pinenuts to the pan.
- Stir through until the beans are nice and hot and coated with the sauce. Season and serve.