A combination of cranberry beans and corn kernels, succotash was one of the first foods that the Native Americans of coastal New England shared with the Plymouth settlers. Rich in nutrients and inexpensive to make, it was especially popular during the Depression and World War II. This bean and corn succotash recipe is especially nice in summer.
Note: Cranberry beans are closest to the type of bean that would have originally been used in this dish, but fresh or frozen lima beans are a popular substitute.
6 ears fresh corn
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 pounds fresh cranberry beans or fresh or frozen lima beans, shelled (see Note)
1/8 pound salt pork, cut into 4 pieces (optional)
1/2 small onion, minced
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
Use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the cobs and set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add the beans, salt pork (if using), and onion. Cook, stirring often, until the beans are tender and the onion is golden, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the corn and add enough water to cover by 1/2 inch. Add the sugar and remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Bring to a gentle bubble and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Remove the salt pork and season with salt and pepper. Add cream, if desired. Serve hot.