Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recipe: Msikwatash (Succotash)

Admit it, chances are the first time you ever heard of this dish, it was uttered by one Sylvester the Cat, right? "Sufferin' Succotash" was his catchphrase of choice whenever he was surprised or confounded by Tweetybird or that neighborhood bulldog. That's where I first heard it and I'm betting all my friends first heard it the same way. After a while you find out what succotash really is and well, if you're like my friends and me, you just think "um, yeah, okay, I don't think I want any of that." Well, we were wrong. Not only is this dish good, but it is surprisingly good. Everyone that tries it in my home really enjoys it.

Now for the etymology lesson. "Succotash" while a very popular side dish of the American south, is originally a Northeastern Native American dish. Called "msikwatash" by the Narragansett Indians of New England. It translates to "a whole ear of corn". The dish was very popular with the northern tribes and it was custom to keep some simmering all day long should anyone get hungry or unexpected guests arrive.

The original recipe called for beans, corn, salt and a good amount of bear grease or some other animal fat. The dish became popular with white trappers and traders who anglicized the name to "Succotash". They introduced it to the European colonists who substituted lard, bacon grease, butter or cream for the bear grease. It has since become a popular standard side dish in many places throughout the USA.

Try it, you'll like it.

Msikwatash (Succotash)

2 slices of bacon
1 TBS sweet butter
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3 to 4 ears)
10 ozs. to 1 lb. fresh or frozen baby lima beans
1 bunch scallions or green onions cut into 1/3-inch pieces (keep white and pale green parts separate from greens)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Cook bacon in a sauce pan over moderate heat, flip frequently, until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel to cool.

Add butter to fat in the sauce pan and melt over moderate heat.

When butter has melted, add corn, lima beans, and white and pale green parts of scallions/green onions and cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes.

Add cream, water, salt, and pepper, then simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender (10 to 15 minutes).

While the succotash simmers cut the bacon into small bits.

After the succotash has finished simmering, stir in bacon and scallion greens

Salt and pepper to taste, and serve to surprised family and guests.

Get your succotash on with some good barbecue or for turkey day!

Recipe: Msikwatash (Succotash) from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk