The photo doesn’t look like much and the name might remind you of Sylvester from Looney Toons, but if creamed corn is your thing, this is your Holy Grail.
Succotash is truly an American dish if there ever was one. Its roots go back to a time before the Pilgrims had the first Thanksgiving. Beans and Maize (corn) were popular crops for Native Americans because together they are a rich source of both protein and carbohydrates. It was common for the two to be cooked together and the term succotash was derived from the Narraganset term: msikwatas.
Since then a lot of other ingredients such as cured meats and cream have been introduced and the name refers to just about anything that has corn and beans in it. My version uses milk along with polenta to make a satisfyingly thick (though not overly cloying) “pudding” in which kernels of crisp sweet corn and fresh fava beans are suspended. The maple syrup brings out the natural sweetness in the corn and with a bit of cream added at the end it makes for a symphony of harmonious textures and flavours. It’s a balanced meal by itself but also works great as a side for meats and poultry.
If fresh fava beans aren’t available, fresh lima beans or fresh peas would work as well. In the dead of winter, this would also taste great with canned corn and cannellini beans. Additions such as bacon and cheese (pecorino or gruyere are two possibilities) would certainly make this richer and I can even imagine turning this into a gratin by putting it in a casserole dish, topping with cheese and breadcrumbs and baking.
- Add the milk, salt, maple syrup, sage and pepper to a sauce pan and heat over medium heat until simmering. Add the polenta and stir continuously until it starts to thicken, about 10 minutes.
- Turn down the heat to medium low and add the corn. Cook stirring regularly until the polenta is no longer soupy but not too firm about 10-15 minutes. Add the beans and cook for a few more minutes until the beans are bright green.
- Remove from heat and taste, adjusting salt and pepper as needed then stir in the cream. Serve while hot.