With rising prices, many American households are attempting to stretch pennies as often as possible. With the traditional Thanksgiving dinner being served on Thursday, and higher prices blatantly obvious, that stretching is being applied to that meal as well.
One of America’s favorite dishes to serve is a simple vegetable dish, Green Bean Casserole. The basic recipe contains three ingredients: green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French fried onions. For decades, the sole brand of these onions was French’s French fried onions. Golden brown, mildly greasy, with substantial sized pieces occurring at random, but few crumbs, they added texture not only to the traditional green bean casserole, but to salads and other dishes as well. Almost everyone liked to sneak a piece or two from the can when assembling that casserole as well.
In recent years, several generic or store brands of French fried onions have appeared in stores. Like most store brands, these were substantially less expensive, and therefore attractive to potential buyers. This year, I too was one of those buyers, and because of schedules, we celebrated our Thanksgiving on the Sunday prior to the actual holiday.
In addition, my daughter had tried numerous knock off brands, so she was equally as curious about the quality of the store brand I had purchased. With the turkey nearly done, the casserole was assembled, and time to open the can of store brand French fried onions arrived.
It was disappointment in the can.
Dark mahogany brown crumbles filled the can to about the two thirds point. (The can was identical in size and weight to the name brand can.) Tasting them proved that while the flavor was the familiar intense onion flavor, the texture was not very appealing, as it was excessively greasy, leaving an unpleasant greasy feel inside the mouth. With a sigh of resignation, I assembled the casserole, certain that the flavor would carry through, and the crumble texture would have little effect on the dish.
Because of the dark nature of the crumbles, I covered the casserole, rather than baking it uncovered as was my habit. I didn’t want the excessively dark topping to brown further. However, my efforts didn’t help much. It still looked burned, although it didn’t taste like burned food with that unpleasant charcoal-ish flavor.
It’s simple, use French’s French fried onions and don’t bother with store brand versions. They lack quality, flavor, texture, and appearance of the original. To economize with the off brand version is a false economy, and if the French’s brand is too expensive for your budget, I recommend eliminating the dish rather than substituting a store brand version. The store brands are universally crumbles with too dark of color, excessively greasy, and few pieces more than crumb size.