Like beans in a brick, this is not an innovative recipe but a technique, the result of a 20-minute discussion last week between my husband and me about the most efficient way to blanch filet beans. If you have several pounds to process at once like we do, dumping the pot of water with the beans every time will turn the kitchen into a Turkish bath. Bringing one pot of water after another to the boil will take forever. If you leave the beans in the same water and remove them with tongs, half of them will be overcooked by the time you fish them all out.
Therefore, in previous years, I put the beans in a metal colander, which I placed in a pot with boiling water. But unless I did this in very small batches, the beans were too crowded and did not cook evenly.
After we took out half of our pots and colanders of various sizes and staged the different options, it occurred to me that cheesecloth might be the way to go. I placed a pound of green beans on a large piece of cheesecloth, twisted it several times at the top so it formed a loose bag around the beans, and lowered it into a large pot of the boiling water. I firmly held onto the top with a pair of tongs. When I immersed the bag into the bowl with ice water, it cooled off almost instantly so I could open up the cloth and release all the beans.
Tonight it’s blanching time again. For now I am happy with the cheesecloth trick. I am only curious what my assistant, in charge of the ice water cooling and spreading the beans on dish towels to dry, will cook up on his end. He usually runs the ceiling fan at top speed to dry the beans. But there is always room for improvement…