Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Suffering Succotash

Thus continues my education in the strange, edible (and nutritious) of God's creation. I found these cranberry beans at the last SoWa Market in Boston over the weekend. I have never seen these beans before live and in person (and I only just saw them once on David Lebovitz's blog pretty recently, so don't feel bad if you think I splashed paint on regular bean pods and made this blog post up). Apparently, they're similar to lima beans--I wouldn't know because my mom never ever ever made us beans when we were kids, except in chili. Probably the only thing she doesn't like are beans (of pretty much any kind but especialy of the lima variety).

And unfortunately for my future children, I totally botched up the beautiful cranberry beans while trying to make a flavorful succotash. My kids-in-the-far-off-abstract-future will never have the joy of eating these beans (in all likelihood)--they probably won't mind, just a guess. Plus who would want to date/marry me? Potentials probably read this blog are like, "Oh my gosh, I'm dating a girl who regularly makes beets, weird eggplant dishes and meals with crazy-colored beans! Not a steak in sight! Get me outta here!" Well, my future-love, it may not be good, but it will not be boring.

The vendor at the market recommended the succotash, and I got way excited about recreating a meal I had at the Boiler Room. Except I am an amateur with little-to-no experience with fresh beans and less than an hour to cook my meal. I just went all crazy, sauteing the beans in butter, tossing in the corn, then some green onions, then, sure, I've got some green peppers, let's put that in there, too. And I just bought some bacon, let's top it off with some crispy, fatty strips. Hmm, we're missing a bit of flavor, I think this needs some garlic. Still not enough, let's make it Indian and throw in some cumin, coriander, pakrika and turmeric. And let's get crazy now--Louisiana Hot Sauce!

But things only got bad when I decided to use corn starch instead of cream as a thickener, all sorts of crazy, middle-school-type chemical reactions happened in the course of five minutes. Corn starch with cold water, it's the sort of thing I don't measure. I'm sure everyone did this experiment with corn startch and water in school at some point to test the qualities of a liquid and a solid. So I was having fun, stirring in more water, then too much water, then more corn starch, then too much corn starch, until I had what I thought would work to thicken the succotash. I poured the solid-liquid into my simmering pot--the following chemical reaction was decidedly in the "solid" category. Some of the corn starch combined with the succotash to make a nice gravy consistency, but some adhered to chunks of corn and bean. Not good. And I was in such a hurry to make it to an adventure club meeting (coolest) that I just couldn't wait for the beans to be cooked all the way through. I saved the remaining succotash in a tupperware container, even though I know I'll never finish it--I AM A HORRIBLE WASTER OF LEFTOVERS.

The succotash turned out fine, though I will critique myself and say I overdid the flavor and should have just let it be with garlic, green onion, salt and pepper. Alas, I am not as experienced/talented as Paul Kulik at the Boiler Room.

How You Should Make Your Succotash:
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound cranberry beans (or lima beans, if you're boring)
1/2 cup corn
1 scallion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste
optional: topped with bacon or other cured meat

Melt the butter on medium heat in a skillet. Saute beans, corn, scallions and garlic until scallions are tender. Toss in the green peppers and saute for another minute or two. Pour in chicken stock, bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. The beans will take a good 20 to 25 minutes to cook through. Stock will reduce, then thicken with cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with bacon for extra goodness.


Megan said...

it looks good. i'll help you with the leftovers. : )

Anonymous said...

I think it looks gross and makes me gag. Too many beans!

One of my patients today told me she wanted to be a food writer so I gave her your blog address. I'm sure you have a new fan. Mom

Jess said...

hahah I adore you! you are so funny talking to "future love". by the way, any future love would be lucky to have a woman so adventurous! and with many adventures resulting in wonderful food!