Succotash, an ancient dish made new again
I experienced the most wonderful birthday present this summer; one of our daughters bought us a dinner at a winery in Forest Grove that was served outside under the sparkling sunlight with sweeping views of wine country. The food was fantastic, the wine pairings perfect and the evening luscious. The whole experience evoked a deep gratitude for our land, Oregon, that we call home.
It was an event dreamed up by a French chef gone Oregonian, Pascal Chureau of Field and Vine Events and Allium Bistro. He had the idea of promoting the Oregon Farm Loop, which is located in Molalla County, with dinners catered with local produce and meat and wine or beer pairings from the winery or brewery that the event takes place on. A portion of the profits are donated to promoting the farm loop. It is a brilliant idea that he pulls off elegantly.
The meal was a 7 course affair that was cooked right on the spot and served family style at long communal tables. It was quite fun to chat with our neighbors, who all turned out to be foodies, (no surprise) and take in the scenery and delightful offerings. My favorite dish, which was really hard to choose since they were all delish, was the succotash. Succotash?? Who would of thunk it?
Succotash is an ancient dish that usually contains corn and shelled beans or peas of some sort and is served in a creamy sauce. The creamy sauce can be made with cream or just be plain ole butter, and lots of it. (No wonder I loved it) It can easily be made with whatever you have one hand that’s over abundant. That’s how it became wildly popular in the great depression and how it became wildly unpopular in the 70s where it was served up overcooked and shriveled. But let me tell you, it is a revelation if made right!
The dish originally came from the NE Native American tribes where they would make it with corn, meat and squash and somehow it got to the South, where it is still a popular dish today. The word succotash comes from the word “msickquatash” used by the Narragansett Indians on Rhode Island and means “broken bits”. It just means lots of veggies in butter for me. How can you go wrong?
There is a great trick to cutting corn off the cob; you use a small sharp knife and a bundt cake pan. Balance the corn, fat end down, in the middle of the bundt pan and then cut the corn kernels off by slicing down and all those fat kernels fall right into the bundt pan and don’t go bouncing all over the kitchen. It is magic.
I have taken liberties with Chef Pascal’s succotash recipe that he graciously shared with me by the addition of our local veggies and the subtraction of one stick of butter. If you would like more butter, by all means, don’t let me stop you. Enjoy the rest of our luscious late summer, swimming in veggies and succotash. (Oh and butter)
Chef Pascal Chureau’s succotash
This dish easily serves 6 as a side and 4 as a main dish. You can sub out sweet paprika for the smoked but the smoked is SO much better! Smoked paprika available at Mother Natures. You can also use green beans instead of the shelled beans.
3 TBLS of coconut or avocado oil or other high heat oil
8 ounces of andouille or some sort of sausage, sliced (optional)
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 cups of fresh cut sweet corn
3 to 4 cloves of minced garlic
3 medium sized over ripe tomatoes
1 cup of fresh peas or shelled beans of some sort
1 medium zucchini diced medium
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1-2 TBLS of minced fresh basil
1 stick of unsalted butter cubed
2 tsps of smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Prep all your lovely farm fresh veggies, sausage and herbs. Puree the tomatoes and garlic in a blender and set aside. Take out a big skillet that is deep and large in diameter. Heat up the oil and sauté the sausage over medium heat till lightly brown and then add the onions. Sauté for a few more minutes till the onions become fragrant and then add the pureed tomatoes and sweet corn. (If you are using green beans, add them here) Bring this delicious mix to a simmer, lower the heat to medium and keep simmering until the corn is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the peas or beans, zucchini, bell pepper and the basil and simmer for about 5 more minutes then add the smoked paprika, salt and pepper to taste and turn off heat. Now for the indulgent part, stir in your butter till it is melted and starts to create a creamy consistency. Taste, lucky you, and add more seasonings to your liking. Eat with relish and grunts of delight.