Thursday, July 14, 2011

Southwest succotash

Succotash is one of those vegetable combinations that doesn't garner confidence in my ability to inspire the residents at work. Aside from a couple off-handed remarks about Sylvester the Cat (known for countering Daffy's "You're despicable" with "Sufferin' succotash"), most had never heard of the dish.

Until I watched a video of Chef Bob Vaningan preparing succotash for Good Day Alabama last week, the only succotash I had ever cooked was a mixture of corm and lima beans. In the five-minute segment I learned that succotash can be much more. Chef Bob uses a variety of vegetables to boost the flavor of an otherwise mundane vegetable dish.

Chef Bob sautes diced onion and green bell peppers for a minute. He then tosses fresh lima beans and black eye peas into the skillet. After the beans are hot, he adds freshly cut corn and halved grape tomatoes. Once the tomato softens in the skillet, he flavors the succotash with fresh chopped thyme and a splash of olive oil. (Click for Chef Bob's recipe.)

I prepared succotash at two different venues yesterday. As often happens, I bring lessons from a dish that I prepared home with me. I prepared the succotash with frozen lima beans, frozen whole kernel corn and canned pinto beans at work. I used just enough tomatillos and poblano chiles to give the succotash a flavor boost without overpowering the corn and beans.

Since I had originally planned to test the dish at home, I already had the ingredients on hand. Even though the dish at work was good, I enjoyed the home version because I used corn that was freshly cut from the cob. The fresh corn gave the succotash a sweet, succulent quality that I didn't get from the version with frozen vegetables.


For best results, cut fresh corn off the cob for this succotash.

2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small
2 poblano chile peppers, diced small
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 pounds cooked pinto beans
2 pounds cooked lima beans
1 pound tomatillos, diced
2 pounds whole kernel corn
1 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Heat oil a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, poblano chiles and garlic and saute several minutes until vegetables begin to soften.

Add pinto beans and lima beans to skillet. Continue cooking, stiring frequently, until beans are heated. Add corn and tomatillos and continue cooking until tomatillos break apart. Add 1 or 2 cups water if needed to keep succotash from drying out.

Season to taste with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Stir lime juice and cilantro in before servings. Served about 25 (1/2-cup) portions.

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