Richmond weather is annoyingly indecisive. One minute it's rejoicing and throwing 70-degree days around as if it has an endless supply stashed somewhere, and the next day it's sinking into a deep depression, with the temperatures dropping along with its mood. Regardless of what the thermostat registers, the produce of the summer is difficult to come by in November, because there's typically been a killing frost or two by now. But what if you long for a favorite summer recipe?
We asked Comfort chef Travis Milton for an antidote to fickle temperatures, and he transformed succotash from summer to fall, replacing its fresh corn with hominy and its butterbeans with the dried variety. "I actually make my own hominy from scratch using the old Cherokee Indian method of leeching lye from wood ash to treat the dried corn," he says. But you don't have to. Throw in an heirloom winter squash if you find one or a grocery-store variety if you can't, and you'll find the sweetness of summer married with the earthy flavors of fall.
Seasonable Succotash by Travis Milton
1 small Candy Roaster squash or medium butternut squash
1 large acorn squash
1 1/2 cups farro (or barley, if farro is unavailable)
2 cups canned hominy, drained
1 1/2 sticks butter (6 ounces)
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
1 cup dried butterbeans
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 tablespoons tomato molasses (see recipe right)
2 tablespoons honey vinegar (Southern Season carries the Lindera Farms brand)
3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1 sprig fresh sage, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Rub the squash halves with 6 tablespoons of butter and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Roast the squash, skin side down, on a baking sheet for 25-30 minutes or until slightly tender. You'll see the inside of the squash begin to separate from the skin. Set aside and allow to cool. Remove the outer skin and dice the cooked squash into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
Place the remaining butter in a large skillet or sauté pan and melt it over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook them until they become translucent. Add the farro (or barley) and toast it in the butter for 4 minutes. Add the dried butter beans and stock, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until the beans and farro start to become tender, about 10-12 minutes. Add the squash and drained hominy.
Stir and let everything cook uncovered for an additional 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the succotash into a large serving bowl and garnish with the thyme and sage, tomato molasses and honey vinegar.
4 cups canned whole tomatoes, in their juice
5 cups sugar
Combine the tomatoes and sugar in a large bowl. Crush the tomatoes, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, strain the mixture into a medium saucepan. Cook it over low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the mixture begins to get syrupy and thick. Skim the foam off the top and remove from heat. Allow to cool and pour into a mason jar. Refrigerate after using.