My wife and I were at a business convention in Las Vegas when I picked a (then) new restaurant at the Venetian called Yardbird. Yardbird had received a nomination for the best new restaurant by James Beard in 2012 for its original Miami location. Upon speaking with our waiter, I asked, “Besides the fried chicken, what is the best thing on the menu?” He replied without hesitation that it was the green beans. He said it comes on a plate with smoked yogurt with sautéed green beans, cooked in rendered bacon fat and then topped with a toasted almond vinaigrette. We gave it a try and agreed that it was delicious. Upon returning home, I did a little investigation into the smoked yogurt sauce—Honolulu chef Ed Kenney of Town Restaurant invented first. So I’ve pieced together a recipe for you that tastes so close; it might even be better!
- mixing bowl
- measuring cups and spoons
- 1 qt yogurt, plain full-fat thick Greek-style or well-drained
- 1 cup wood, apple (any fruit wood will work)
- 1 tbsp miso, white
- ½ tsp lemon juice, fresh
- To Taste Salt and pepper to taste
- Spoon the yogurt into a standard 9x13 or 9x9 casserole dish and spread to cover the bottom of the container. On an 18x24 sheet pan, place two one-gallon freezer bags half full of ice. Pat down to make a smooth surface. Place the casserole dish with the yogurt over the ice to keep the yogurt cool. The idea here is not to cook the yogurt; smoke it.
- I use a gas grill for this process. Turn one set of burners on by about a quarter and leave the rest of the grill off. If using a charcoal grill, start 4-5 pieces of charcoal and arrange them together on one side of the grill. Place the yogurt sitting on ice, opposite of the fire on the grate above the fire. (Never directly on the fire.)
- I'm fortunate enough to have a gas grill that has a dedicated smoking compartment. However, you don't need one like mine. You can make an aluminum smoking packet for any gas or charcoal grill with a lid. Just place any hardwood smoking chips into a self-fashioned square/rectangular piece of aluminum foil and poke a few holes in it. Place the wood chip packet over a lit burner or directly on a few hot coals and close the lid. The grill should not be hot and barely noticeable that it's going, but with plenty of smoke. Smoke the yogurt for about 15-20 minutes.
- The yogurt should have an off-white tone (slightly highlighted yellow peaks). Taste to see if the yogurt has taken on the smokiness of the wood chips. Remove and take back inside to finish. Next, add the yogurt, the rest of the ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until the mixture is thoroughly combined.
Toasted Almond Vinaigrette
- 1/3 cup almonds, toasted chopped into rough 1/8th-inch pieces
Make the Vinaigrette
- Peel, core, and mince the shallot. Reserve
- Combine the oils into a container that is easy to pour, like a measuring cup. Reserve.
- Using a medium mixing bowl and add the reserved shallots, balsamic vinegar, water, honey, finely chopped herbs (parsley, tarragon, basil). With a whisk (or food processor), slowly incorporate the oils. Once all the oil is mixed, check the seasoning and adjust the salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reserve
To toast your roughly chopped almonds:
- In a dry skillet over medium-high heat, lift and shake the almonds around the pan to evenly toast each side of the almonds. It takes only a few minutes to get the almonds nice and brown, so stick with it to be sure they don't burn. Once the almonds look toasted, pour them into the vinaigrette to cool and incorporate them into the dressing. The dressing can be stored refrigerated until the time just before serving.
Green Beans with Smoked Yogurt and Toasted Almond Vinaigrette
- 3-4 slices bacon
- 1 lb beans, blanched green (preferably thin french, blanched for 5-6 minutes in boiling salted water)
- ½ whole lemon juice
- To taste sea salt, or kosher
- To taste pepper freshly ground black
- In a heavy skillet or pot over medium heat, render the bacon slices slowly. Once the bacon is crispy, remove it from the skillet, chop, and reserve.
- While the bacon fat is still hot, add 1 lb of blanched green beans and sauté until slightly charred and cooked. Add the fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.