Olfactory associations are a funny thing. I can barely tell you what I did during the Fall of 2009 (probably not much), but I distinctly remember roasting vegetables every week or so in my tiny Williamsburg apartment- I remember every ding and scar on the old roasting pan my roommate and I shared, and more potent in my memory are the smells that would fill our tiny windowless living room. When I think of Christmas Evening at my parents’ home, I can only imagine our kitchen windows steamy from the Hot Pot feast that we’ve cooked up indoors and the smell of that steamy, brothy, air. When I think of certain close friends, I reminisce about certain dinners and feasts that we’ve created together. Even with the DiploMan, with whom I have travelled the world, one of our favorite memories together involves a tiny restaurant under the G train called Moto and a neighboring bar called Trophy Bar– sights, flavors, sounds, and smells.
I’ve been reading and hearing about all you at home, enjoying your braises and roasted vegetables and stews and apple desserts. To me, this can only mean the true start of Fall . I expect leaves of epic rainbow proportions outside my window and replacing my summer dresses with thick wool coats in my closet. While summer brings plenty of outdoor parties and firework shows, Fall and Winter brings cozy familial gatherings and the sharing of food and drink. And the roasting of vegetables.
When I found purple potatoes at the market- local purple potatoes, imagine that!- and then soonafter a few butternut squash (for a hefty price I might add…), I knew that Fall would finally grace its presence in my own kitchen. I have yet to roast any vegetables on a pan this season, but that quickly changed after a trip to the market last week.
Combining purple potatoes, roasting potatoes, and one bright butternnut squash, along with maple bacon, sweet corn, and dijon mustard, I created a side dish that was part succotash, part potato salad- a mash up of great proportion. In struggling to find a name for my new creation, I settled on calling it a Potato Succotash.
Even with my knowledge of foods, I still always think succotash to be something other than it is- some sort of leather-soled footwear, or an expression of surprise, or something involving pumpkins.
I’ve seen succotash popping up in food magazines and menus over the last few years, making a resurgence from it’s 20th-century Depression-era roots. Usually a late summer/early fall fare, succotash is actually a sauteed corn and bean based dish that is often pumped with tomatoes or zucchini or peppers. Here, I’ve completely eliminated the beans and substituted potatoes in their place. Thanks to the prolonged Indian summer that has been cast in Guangzhou, I’ve found the perfect season for the dish.
Three Potato Succotash
- 3 medium-sized purple potatoes, peel-on.
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and seeded.
- 6 small roasting potatoes
- 6 strips of thick-cut bacon
- 3 Tbsp. real maple syrup
- 1 large leek, both green and white parts, chopped
- 2 ears of fresh, sweet corn (preferably multi-colored), with kernels cut off the ear.
- 3 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
- Cut potatoes and squash into 1/2-inch cubes. Line a large roasting pan with foil, and scatter potatoes onto pan. Liberally season with salt and freshly ground pepper, a few Tbsp. of Olive Oil, and several dashes of whatever dried spices you find enticing in your pantry- I used rosemary, thyme, cumin, and sage.
- Preheat oven to 400. Roast potatoes for 40mins-1hr (depending on the temperament of your oven), checking every 20 minutes and shaking the pan to make sure the potatoes aren’t sticking to the foil. Potatoes are done once they are tender to the bite. Take out of the oven, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Line a nonstick baking sheet or silpat mat with your slices of bacon. Turn oven down to 375, and place bacon on the middle rack of the oven. After 15 minutes, slide pan out and brush bacon with syrup, flip over with a pair of tongs, and generously brush again with more maple syrup on the other side. Slide back into oven and turn up oven to broil for 3-5 minutes, watching carefully to make sure the bacon does not burn. Turn off oven and remove bacon to cool slightly.
- In a large saute pan, heat Olive Oil on high and sautee leeks for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Turn down heat to medium, and add corn. Sautee for another few minutes. Turn off range and take the pan off the stove.
- Cut slightly cooled bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. Add it into your pan (that is off the heat). Also add the potatoes, then add whole-grain mustard. Toss to thoroughly combine. Season with salt an pepper, if necessary.
- Transfer into a large bowl or serving dish. Serve warm or at room temperature.
yield: 6-8 servings as a side dish