January 07, 2012
January often marks a fresh attempt at better eating habits, and my house is no exception. The luxuries of the holiday season, some of which are still piled up on the dining room table, have become a menacing responsibility - the need to value the efforts which went into making the various treats, both mine and others, and the wish to refrain from waste, all jumble together against the knowledge that December was full of exceptions and indulgence, and that January had better feature some strategic planning.
My reactionary meal-planning almost always skews to the quickly prepared items, generally brightly coloured dishes which feature the greatest variety of vegetables that I can pack into my skillet. This Succotash fits the bill.
A side dish in the American South, succotash generally features a trifecta of lima beans, corn, and peppers, and varying amounts of butter, cream, bacon, or ham, depending on the cook and the needs of the moment. This version adds a small amount of chorizo to bump it up to centre plate, and is served over rice. Leftover succotash can be stirred right into the rice for a pleasing lunch, too.
Don't let the words "lima beans" put you off, either! I use the bitty little frozen ones, and they are tender and tasty, not bland and starchy. Plus, the combination of bacon and chorizo gives you plenty to take your mind off any childhood lima-induced trauma.
Adapted from "Cook This! Not That!"
by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding
Serves 4 (over rice)
2 pieces thick, dry-cured bacon
150 grams dry-cured chorizo, diced
300 grams baby lima beans (fresh or frozen)
2 cups frozen corn
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup half & half or light cream
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Chop the bacon into lardons, and fry gently over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon pieces from the pan, but leave a tablespoon of the drippings. Add the onions and chorizo to the skillet, and saute for about three minutes, or until tender. Add the lima beans (no need to defrost, if using frozen), and stir and saute for another three minutes. Add the frozen corn, and stir and saute again.
Season with cumin and cayenne, add the bacon pieces back to the pan, and taste to see if you need to add any salt (the chorizo and bacon may have added enough). Add the red pepper, and a dribble of water, and saute for three more minutes. Continue to cook and stir until vegetables are tender (test the beans). Add the half & half, and cook and stir until liquid boils off to a thin sauce, almost evaporated. Remove from heat and serve over basmati rice.
Could you make this dish vegetarian? Absolutely. Simply omit the meat, and use a tablespoon of olive oil to saute the vegetables. To give a little more depth of flavour, you might want to add a splash of liquid smoke. Alternatively, you could also use an extra-firm smoked tofu, diced moderately finely, in place of the chorizo. For vegans, follow the vegetarian instructions, but also replace the half & half with either vegetable broth or a non-dairy milk (such as almond or rice milk), possibly thickened with a little cornstarch, to give it body. Please note that I haven't yet tried making the vegetarian versions, but these are my best estimates. If you give it a try, or have other suggestions to veg-ify this recipe, please do leave a note, and tell me how it went.