Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lush Succotash

Succotash used to be considered that blah dish served in high school cafeterias. However this indigenous American dish can be delicious if made properly. It's also a great way of taking advantage of summer's harvests too by adding a cornucopia of fresh veggies and beans..

David Tanis wrote about it and improved on the classic recipe in yesterday's New York Times Food section. The dish originally was made by a branch of  Narragansett Indians in Massachusetts. Their msickquatash was Anglicized into succotash and contained the basics or Three Sisters of indigenous cooking. These were corns , beans and squash which was cultivated in three separate mounds and grown in copious amounts.. There were summer and winter versions. The summer featured fresh sweet corn, shelling beans or fresh green beans and tender summer squash. Fresh or dried meat and fish were also added to give it more weight The winter version consisted of dried corn, dried beans and pumpkin,Both recipes were a boon to early settlers who struggled with crops and food supplies. Succotash gave them both the needed nutrition and food to survive.

Sadly the dish suffered in the centuries after that.School cafeterias across the country vilified it,It's usually a blah mix of corn, beans and lima beans. Once in a while pearl onions  were added while  home made versions had ample amounts of butter or margarine added to  give it some zip (as I have done). Mr. Tanis throws August's bounty into the mix. He puts in zucchini, green peppers and tomatoes for color and zing. While traditional succotash has salt pork or bacon for extra flavor. Mr. Tanis amp it up by adding lobster chunks, He also tosses in a dollop of crème fraiche .Okra is another new ingredient that is thrown into the mix. It is great for thickening the stew as well as it giving it flavor. It can be omitted if  no one likes it There are the traditional ingredients too,There is the original corn , shelling beans along with any choice of lima, cranberry or  even black eye peas.

Succotash is a great way to enjoy the summer's bounty and celebrate indigenous cooking. Make it today with lobster for a lush feast. It's not that yucky side anymore but an elegant stew, featuring the best of land and sea.

No comments: