Succotash is summery Southern combo of beans, corn and other fresh goodness. With sherry vinegar, butter beans, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil, this version from Gourmet transforms veggies into something you something you can't help but eat every bite of, even if you're a meat and potatoes guy like one of my taste testers.
Maybe it was the bacon grease in the cast iron that worked the magic, true Southern style? Maybe it was how I accidentally tweaked the recipe to include more bacon grease than called for and cooked the veggies to still be crisp and hence fresher tasting than true, true Southern style?
Whatever it was, it on plates with grilled (err, slightly charred but still not dried out on the inside) salmon for a Friday night lake house dinner. There was some wine and some talk. And then it was gone.
The succotash inspiration came from the Stone Throw Bar & Grill chef who keeps the "simple and Southern" side on his menu served with fish all summer. I had the pleasure of chatting with him about how he prepares locally grown produce for a casual-fine dining hybrid menu for an upcoming issue of 280 Living a few weeks ago, and I left with determination to make just that, succotash with my favorite piece of seafood, salmon.
The end product confirmed that restaurant inspiration with magazine recipes cooked in the company of friends with no time table is quite the perfect way to spend a night, one I prefer to eating out or grabbing a meal that requires no prep and cleanup work.
Herbed Summer Succotash
Gourmet , August 1999
1/4 pound bacon (about 4 slices)
1 pound fresh shell beans in pod or 1 cup frozen baby lima beans (or fresh butter beans--what I used)
3/4 pound cherry tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pints)
4 ears corn
1 small Vidalia onion or other sweet onion
1 large garlic clove
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
1/4 cup packed small fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup packed small fresh arugula leaves
In a skillet cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels and crumble. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from skillet and set skillet aside. (Or, for the Madoline's sinful version, leave all the bacon fat in and don't add the oil later.)
Shell fresh beans if using. In a small saucepan of boiling salted water cook beans, covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. In a sieve drain beans and rinse under cold running water to stop cooking.
Cut larger cherry tomatoes in half. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, cut corn kernels from cobs. Chop onion and mince garlic.
Add oil to bacon fat in skillet and cook onion over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomatoes, corn, and vinegar and cook, stirring, until tomatoes just begin to lose their shape. Remove skillet from heat and gently stir in beans and half of bacon. Cool succotash to room temperature and gently stir in basil, arugula, and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve succotash sprinkled evenly with remaining bacon.