I imagine that when the Narragansett Indians consumed hearty stews of beans and corn they never fathomed that succotash might one day take the form and flavor of this dish. They probably also didn't imagine America might look as it does today, but that's a discussion for another time...
We have the Native Americans to thank for so many agricultural innovations that define what we eat today. Twinkies, obviously, and blasto butter popcorn. Everything with corn, really, amongst a slue of other crops that amount to more than 50% of the foods we grow in North America. Perhaps putting corn in practically all processed foods is just an homage to the Masters of Maize. I think not.
There are many reasons succotash was once so popular, first with the Native Americans because, well, that's what they had growing to eat, and during the Depression era because it was cheap and easy. Of course, with popularity comes the risk of passé, and succotash fell out of fashion in favor of TV dinners, tuna casserole, and ambrosia salad (potential post idea). But, my friends, what is old is once again new! Similar to the attention such "peasant" treats as bánh mi, ratatouille, tacos, etc. have received in the culinary world, succotash is "HOT." Oh yeah, it's trending.
Please refer the Treat Trend Cloud below.
But back to cheap and easy...
The versatility of this dish makes it accessible in most places and seasons, especially for these summer months loaded with CSA goodies: fresh corn and a variety of vegetables from Bellair, plus some insanely delicious, smokey bacon from the boys over at JM Stock Provisions. No cherry tomatoes? No Problem. Just toss in whatever you have in your fresh produce arsenal. Try zucchini or winter squash for a Three Sisters medley. Use fava or cannelini, any legume really. The idea of this dish is that it be inspired by the ingredients that are readily (and cheaply) available to you, yielding a unique dish defined by its season and region.
Also cheap and easy? Miso, which for me has become a staple in the refrigerator. It's truly so versatile and the flavor and saltiness are so dense that you only need a spoonful for instant broth or to amp up a pot of grains. I have managed to put it in everything from steel cut oats and cookies to soups and dressings. This recipe takes inspiration from David Chang's episode on soy from the PBS series Mind of a Chef in which he reveals the secret to one of the Momofuku empire's most popular dishes: cheap miso. While the "real stuff" might only be found in Japan, the miso found in asian grocery stores here in the States can be easily remedied with a healthy chunk of butter. Also, bacon. While summer may be coming to a close for you fools up north, it seems it's only just beginning down here and I'm throwing every last veggie into this dish.
Serves two large or four small portions
4 ears corn
2 strips thick cut bacon
1 hot pepper (serrano, jalapeño, etc) sliced into rings, including the seeds
2 medium yellow tomatoes, diced
2 cups cook butter beans (aka lima)
4 TBS miso butter*
beer to deglaze
1 handful cherry tomatoes
soft boiled eggs, David Chang style
- Be sure to prepare all the ingredients first, a mise-en-place if you will, as the sautéing will proceed quickly once you've begun. In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, start first with the bacon strips, cut into 1/2 pieces. Sauté until browned and relatively crisp.
- Add the corn (cut off from the husks) to the hot skillet and toss the kernels, allowing them to brown a bit in the rendered fat.
- Next add the hot pepper, diced tomato, and lima beans as well as two heaping spoonfuls of the miso butter. Sauté for a few minutes, coating all the ingredients in the miso butter.
- As soon as the miso begins to caramelize, add several splashes of beer to deglaze the bits sticking to the pan. At this stage add the cherry tomatoes and scallions, removing the pan from heat as soon as the first tomatoes begin to burst open.
- Top each serving with a fresh soft poached egg, as well as more chopped scallions and a few grinds of black pepper.
1/4 cup white miso
1/4 cup butter softened