Published November 1, 2003.
To develop a streamlined green bean recipe that would employ just one pot and still yield tender beans and a flavorful sauce, we built the sauce in the pan first and then added the beans and some chicken broth (instead of water) for flavor.
1. Process bread in food processor to even, fine crumbs, about ten 1 second pulses. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; when melted, add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl and stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and Parmesan; set aside.
2. Wipe out skillet. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in flour, red pepper flakes, and thyme, and then toss in green beans. Add chicken broth and increase heat to medium-high; cover and cook until beans are partly tender but still crisp at center, about 4 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes. Off heat, stir in lemon juice, and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs, and serve.