“Suffering Succotash!!!”

Thanks, I had to go ahead and get that out of the way.  I’m probably dating myself by starting this post with Sylvester the Looney Tunes Cat’s famous expression, but I simply could not resist. It’s not every day that I make a dish with such a unique name. In fact, it’s usually only once or twice a year that I make succotash, when the shell beans (aka cranberry beans) are in season along with the corn. 

This recipe is one from my grandmother. I grew up eating shell beans this way. My one adaptation is where Nan’s recipe calls for a small piece of salt pork. I instead use bacon or a bacon end, depending on what’s on-hand. The bacon tastes about the same in the final product but does not smell nearly as bad when frying. (It could just be me, but I find the smell of salt pork quite unappetizing.  As a child I ran out of Nan’s house whenever she fried up salt pork.)


This would be too much water for succotash. You want to be sure that your beans are in just enough water to cover them, as the water will become part of the dish at the end.

After shelling and rinsing your lovely beans, put them in a medium saucepan and just cover them with cold water before bringing them to a boil. Once boiling, reduce them to medium heat and boil until they are soft, 20 minutes or so. While they are boiling, fry up your bacon in a pan until cooked, but not crispy.  

Once your beans are cooked, add the bacon (whole- it’ll likely break up a bit when mixing) and corn to the saucepan with the beans. Mix and continue cooking over medium low heat until combined. Add butter salt and pepper to taste and voila!

Succotash is good fresh, but even better reheated the next day once the flavors have all really melded.

The slice of bacon that boiled with the succotash is more for flavoring, but I don’t necessarily suggest eating it – it’s kind of like the pork in baked beans. Sometimes I crumble crispy bacon on top of the succotash as a garnish. Really it’s whatever you prefer. Also, if you find the succotash to be too watery for your taste, you can drain off some of the liquid at the end.

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A hearty side dish or a light meal, this dish has a sweet and smoky flavor that can only be found during shell bean and fresh corn season.
  • 1 pound of fresh shell beans or cranberry beans, shelled and rinsed
  • 4 ears worth (more or less as needed to taste) of steamed, boiled or blanched fresh/frozen corn off the cob
  • 1 slice of bacon, fried until cooked but not crispy (can also use 1 piece of salt pork the equivalent size of about ½ slice of bacon)
  • Butter, salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a medium saucepan, place the rinsed beans and add cold water until the beans are just covered.
  2. Bring the beans to a boil, then boil gently for about 20 minutes or so until the beans are soft.
  3. Once the beans are softened (do not drain), add the whole slice of bacon or salt pork, along with the corn, butter, salt and pepper to taste, stirring and simmering until everything is well incorporated and the beans reach the desired texture (longer cooking usually means softer beans).
  4. Drain off excess liquid as desired.(much of the liquid boils off depending on how long you simmer.
  5. Serve as-is, or with crumbled bacon on top.

Though I haven’t tried it yet, this would make a good vegetarian dish as you have beans and corn, which when served together create a complete protein. Beans have all the essential amino acids except one: Methionine. Corn has Methionine, making this bean-corn combo a complete food, even without the bacon. A little bit of onion or shallot may be a good substitute for the bacon flavor in this dish. Nan and I hope you like this one!


About Jess

Jess Anderson is the creator of CSA|365 and is passionate about the local food movement. A long time member of Springdell and a busy mother of two, Jess loves keeping her family fed by honest local food.

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