Being from the southeast, I assume that everyone know’s what succotash is since it’s a staple during the summer months in most kitchens. However, as I learned recently, this is not the case. Succotash is primarily a corn and lima bean based salad that is a New World recipe. The earliest writings show that succotash dates back to 1751 in New England and more specifically, Rhode Island. If you think about what was available back then, corn and lima beans would have been abundant. A staple crop.
Related Recipe: Summer Succotash
Succotash is primarily made up of corn and lima beans along with onion and red bell pepper. Do to the relatively affordable nature of these vegetables, it became a Depression-era staple. A dish that was found on every single table from New England to the South. As the nation recovered financially, succotash began to evolve. New ingredients were being added to the mix like lard, butter or bacon. More than likely a southern addition that everyone could enjoy. It became a Thanksgiving recipe, something to celebrate.
Nowadays you can find all types of succotash recipes. Lima beans are being replaced with green beans or maybe some white acre peas. There is always a fat in succotash now and it’s usually butter. Corn is the base whereas in the past, lima beans were. Red bell peppers are being replaced with cherry tomatoes. Lardons are being rendered and fresh herbs like tarragon are being added for a French twist. Like most recipes nowadays, the rules are being thrown out and people are creating new recipes based on the past.
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Just remember that at it’s core, succotash is only a corn and lima bean salad with a bit of butter. Simple, seasonal and delicious.