Posted by: Erica Retrochef | November 28, 2011

Harvest Succotash

This was one of the weirdest ways to choose a recipe that we’ve tried yet.

One lazy weekend morning, Buzz and I decided it was a great day to try a retro recipe. He wanted something with meat in it, with meat as the star, and suggested ground lamb. None of my bookmarks called for lamb — lots of hamburger, but that’s not really the same, and I didn’t want to waste lamb on a dubious concoction from decades ago. So we started looking for pork chops, steak, really anything substantially “meaty” — and came across this.

The subsequent exchange went something like this:

“That’s not a recipe, we can’t make that.”

“Sure it is, meat tenderizer and mediocre steak! That’s a recipe.”

“No, it isn’t!”

“Oh come on, please!”

I stood my ground, though; “steak” and “meat tenderizer” is not a recipe, especially not if there aren’t any proportions, or instructions beyond “use.” After flipping through a few more images, though, we found

That’s right: a bull hugging a matador, while the matador sprinkles him with meat tenderizer. And, since that image is just way too good to pass up, we really did have to make steak.

Did you know that meat tenderizer is made from enzymes found in papaya? Weird but true. So really, I could be using fresh papaya chunks here, instead of generic meat tenderizer. (But guess what I had in the kitchen cupboard…)

Buzz butterflied the entire hunk of meat, making two (fairly large!) steaks. Seasoning was pretty simple — salt and pepper, in addition to the meat tenderizer. (One steak also got prime rib rub, just to see if that significantly improved the flavor.)

And, he threw it under the broiler for a while.

I still insisted on finding a real recipe to go on the side, though. Surprisingly, I don’t have many vegetable recipes bookmarked, either, but we did manage to agree on Harvest Succotash.

HARVEST SUCCOTASH — Melt 3 tbsp. bacon fat; blend in 2 tbsp. flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper. Stir in 1/2 c. liquid from No. 2 can Stokely’s Finest Cut Green Beans, or No. 303 can Golden Whole Kernel Corn. Boil and stir 2 min.; add 1/2 c. cream or evaporated milk. Add drained beans and corn, heat. 8 servings.

I will pause here for a moment and admit that I don’t really understand how this is succotash. As I understand it, succotash consists of corn and lima beans. There are versions with other beans like kidney, navy, etc. — almost any bean you can buy dried in a bag seems to be appropriate, if not entirely traditional. Green beans, however, despite being “beans,” are really completely different vegetables.

However, I don’t really like lima beans. This means a couple of things:

  1. I am not an expert on succotash, since it generally is sitting there full of lima beans saying “you won’t enjoy this!”
  2. I’m more than happy to follow Mrs. Irene L. Dout’s prize-winning succotash recipe, which calls for green rather than lima beans.

Easy enough, right?

Making a roux of bacon fat, flour, and canned vegetable juice is rather odd.

For one thing, it smells of canned vegetables.

And for some reason (probably the bacon fat) it took a while to get to the appropriate consistency. I cooked fat and flour and vegetable juice for a while and nothing happened — then suddenly, BAM, it looked like wallpaper paste.

Quick, add the cream!

It turned into a creamy sauce. (I first wrote “nice, creamy sauce” but realized that isn’t necessarily fair, since I haven’t tasted it yet.)

And then the vegetables got dumped on top. And at this point I realized that the photograph in the advertisement was pretty misleading — there’s no way the vegetables are going to stay that shiny and clean once this is mixed up.

I was right. Doesn’t look terrible, but doesn’t look like the picture.

This was a really, really tasty meal!

The tenderizer did an admirable job of tenderizing; you could tell which parts of the steak had gotten only a light dose, and were chewier as a result. Overall, though, it was a decent steak.

I was expecting the succotash to taste like glue-covered Veg-All (horrors!), but rather than bland glop, the sauce was a pleasant, creamy accent to the vegetables. It ended up tasting somewhat like creamed corn with green beans mixed in. Publix does a very good canned corn, and their canned green beans aren’t bad either; I think poor-quality vegetables could easily kill this succotash, though. (Well done, Mrs. Dout!)

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  1. You brave souls! I’m delighted to know it all came together and tasted pretty good. I immediately remembered the tidbit about the papaya. It’s a heck of a lot better than MSG. Pineapple juice works as a good tenderizer too. I actually just learned about that one!

    Thanks for sharing, Erica. I’ve seen that Stokley recipe in one of my ad books before. I’ll have to give it a whirl!

    • A few tenderizers are made from pineapple extract, but most (including the one we used) use papaya. We actually had the tenderizer on hand because some rather fancy recipes do call for it. That surprised me, but the stuff really does work well doing what it’s supposed to. It isn’t going to make a slab of shoulder meat (which is what I bought, having been instructed to purchase the “cheapest steak”) as soft as butter, but it does make it quite palatable and delicious when properly seasoned.

  2. So that meat was…it says ‘shoulder london broil’? I had a hunk of round steak and no meat tenderizer, but I had to cook it. So I stabbed it with a fork about a thousand times on each side and broiled it. No go! Still tough and gray!

  3. I remember my mother using meat tenderizer – I hadn’t thought about it in years!

    Am looking forward to reading through your archives – you have a wonderful blog! P.S. I love the TJS site, too, and often use ads from there on my Kitchen Retro blog (I’m linking below to my culinary history blog though)

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