An easy way to add a bit of zip to dinnertime is with one of America's most popular foods: bacon. This is why Bacon and Cheddar Green Bean Casserole is sure to be a hit at your dining room table. Bits of crispy bacon and shallots add some crunch to the rich, creamy texture of the melted Cheddar cheese. The combination of these ingredients taste so heavenly, that you'll never want to eat plain green beans again. This is a good, easy side dish to prepare for your family during the holidays.

2 pounds green beans, rinsed with tips cut off or 3 (10-ounce) bags French cut green beans
5 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 shallots, chopped finely
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced and chopped
3/4 cup half and half
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk or medium Cheddar, shredded
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For topping:

Vegetable oil for frying
2 shallots, sliced very thinly
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Steam green beans in a steaming basket over boiling water until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside. (If using frozen green beans, heat them according to directions, drain well, and set aside.)
2. Cook bacon pieces over medium heat until they are just starting to get crispy, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and drain on paper towel. Drain half the fat from the skillet and add butter, shallots, and mushrooms over medium-high heat until liquid is released from mushrooms, about 5 minutes. Saute until translucent.
3. In a large saucepan, add half and half, milk, and flour over medium-high heat. Whisk until smooth and cook until liquid has thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add cheese and stir well to combine. Cook another minute and remove from heat. Stir in bacon, green beans, thyme, and sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a ceramic or glass baking dish.
4. Make crispy shallot topping. Heat 1 to 2 inches of oil over medium-high heat (to about 375 degrees) in a large sauté pan. The oil will be hot, but not smoking. Mix flour with salt and pepper. Separate shallots into rings. Dredge onions in egg, then flour mixture. Drop into hot oil until golden brown and crispy. Work in batches if necessary and drain on paper towel.
5. Sprinkle shallots over green bean casserole in baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

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