Even though South Texas doesn't get much of a fall season, fall is still my favorite time of year. I love the first dip into cooler temperatures, a welcomed reprieve from the summer heat. I love leaves turning colors (I know it's happening somewhere in the world just not on our sunny trees), but most of all I love the foods that fall brings. Somewhere along the last summer days and the first peaks of autumn, feelings of nostalgia wash over me and I yearn to dig through my grandma's recipe box to cook up some treats. Maybe it's because of all the good Thanksgiving memories I have or maybe it's because the crisp 81 degrees (ha ha) has put a little extra pep in my step. Either way, I'm anxious to sip on cider, scrape through squash, and roast pumpkin seeds.
I caught this on Good Morning America years ago and it fast became one of my favorite fall recipes:
Ben Barker's Butternut Squash Succotash
3 ounces of country ham, cut into small dice
1/4 cup peanut oil (or canola oil or safflower oil)
1/2 cup onion, small dice
1/2 cup red bell pepper, small dice
1/2 cup celery, small dice
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
Pinch crushed red pepper flake
1 bay leaf
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and seeded, cut into medium dice (or acorn squash, or pumpkin)
2 cups baby lima beans, fresh or frozen (I've used canned in a pinch and it turned out just fine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, or more, as needed (or water)
1 1/2 cups white hominy, drained and rinsed
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (optional)
2 tablespoons melted butter (optional)
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat oil over the medium heat, add country ham and cook until lightly browned. Add onion, pepper and celery; cook over medium heat until softened and beginning to caramelize. Add garlic, pepper and bay leaf; cook one minute.
Stir in lima beans and butternut squash; add chicken stock ( or water) just until fluid. Bring to a simmer and cook until butternut dice are just tender. Remove from heat and reserve.
While limas are cooking, combine hominy and cream in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until cream is reduced and thickened. Stir into limas, season liberally and stir in herbs. Transfer to an ovenproof casserole. (May be prepared ahead to this point.)
Preheat oven to 350. Combine breadcrumbs and melted butter in a bowl and sprinkle on top of succotash. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Serve hot.
Recipe copyright ©1999 Ben Barker. Ben and Karen own the Magnolia Grill in Durham, NC, I look forward to visiting the restaurant someday : )