Bits & Bites: Butterbean and Corn Succotash with Smoked Tomato Broth
Succotash – fun to say, and even better to eat! It is said that Native Americans originated the dish and taught European settlers how to make it, but these days you’ll find it served all over the world – from Mexico to Africa. Succotash has also found a happy home in the Southern United States, where we find it complements everything from Thanksgiving dinner to backyard cookouts. In this version, hearty limas and fresh sweet corn are rounded out by crisp bell peppers, while a smoked tomato broth lends a uniqueness to the dish. Chef Scott Stefanelli recommends pairing it with a simple grilled grouper.
Butterbean and Corn Succotash and Smoked Tomato Broth
1 South Carolina sweet onion (about 8 ounces), cut into1/2-inch thick slices
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 ounces bacon, diced
1 green pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups cooked South Carolina butterbeans
4 ears cooked kernels of fresh South Carolina corn
8 basil leaves
2 tablespoons parsley leaves
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
4 red tomatoes, seeded and cut into small dice
Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Toss the slices of onion in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and half of the black pepper. Grill the slices of onion until lightly charred on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Let cool enough to handle. Cut into a 1/4-inch dice.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Add the peppers and garlic. Sauté them for 3 minutes, turning them a couple of times. Add the grilled onion, the butterbeans, and corn. Mix well to combine and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes to combine the flavors.
Chop the basil and parsley gently so that you won’t bruise the leaves. Add the bacon and the basil, parsley, thyme leaves, and diced tomato to the corn mixture and gently toss to combine. Season the mixture to taste with the remaining salt and pepper.
Smoked Tomato Broth
1/2 cup wood chips soaked in water for 30 minutes
3 pounds Roma tomatoes, cut in half
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
To use a smoker: Prepare a smoker by heating it to 225̊ F. Add the soaked chips. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and toss them with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Spread the tomatoes out in a baking pan that will fit in the smoker. Smoke tomatoes for 30 minutes at 225̊ F.
To use a stove-top smoker: Make sure the parts of the smoker are clean and dry before you start. Spread wood chips over the center of the bottom of the smoker, covering an area roughly the size of your burner. The chips should be about 1-inch deep. Line the smoker’s drip pan with a single layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. This cuts cleanup time in half.
Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and toss them with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Put the drip pan in place. Arrange the tomatoes in the smoker’s pan. Be sure to leave space between the tomatoes. Close the lid about two-thirds of the way and center the smoker over a burner. Turn the heat to medium. When you see the first signs of smoke rising from under the drip pan, close the lid securely and start timing. The tomatoes should take approximately 45 minutes.
Remove the tomatoes. Juice the tomatoes in a vegetable juicer, or a blender or food processor. Deglaze the baking pan with some water, run this mixture through the juicer as well, or pour it into the blender or food processor, adding it to the tomato juice. (If using a blender or food processor, strain the juice and discard the skin and seeds.) When ready to serve, place the juice in a non-reactive saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer and cook it for 5 to 6 minutes, until it is reduced by half. Stir in the butter and serve.
Photo and recipe courtesy of Chef Scott Stefanelli