May We Recommend: Summer Succotash | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

May We Recommend: Summer Succotash


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Succotash is truly an All-American dish. Its name is derived from the Narragansett Indian word, sohquttahhash, which means “broken corn kernels.” Native Americans taught settlers in this country how to cultivate corn and beans, which also became a dish staple that provided a complete lean protein, rich in essential amino acids. Depending on where you live, succotash may be made with lima beans, butter beans, crowder peas, or another type of local bean. Some cooks add fresh tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, and onion- whatever is in season.

One of my personal pet peeves is seeking people yanking down the husks in the market before selecting their corn. Here are some kinder, gentler ways to inspect corn before buying from fellow southerner and award-winning cookbook author, Virginia Willis (Bon Appetit, Ya’ll and Secrets of the Southern Table).

Look for green, moist husks.  Dry, yellowing husks and browning at the bottom of the stalk (where it was broken from the plant) means the corn is not fresh. Check for small brown holes which may be signs of worms or insects.

Feel the tassels: They should be silky and moist. It’s okay if they are dark at the top of the ear. This means the corn is ripe. Willis shares that each strand of silky tassel corresponds to a kernel, so look for full tassels.

Squeeze gently: The kernels should feel full through the husk. Gently peel back (not strip!) a little of the husk to see if the tips are filled with kernels and not dried out.

Corn begins to convert from sugar to starch immediately after picking. That’s why it’s best to purchase and eat corn fresh. If you must store husks for a day or so at most, keep away from goods with strong scent.

Summer Succotash

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