A gorgeous side dish or main course for late summer and early fall, this succotash combines sweet corn, shiitake mushrooms, and sugar snaps.

By Margaret Eby
September 03, 2020
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Credit: Photo by Tara Donne / Food Styling by Chris Lanier / Prop Styling by Raina Kattelson

I first became acquainted with succotash as one of the colorful, G-rated swears used by Daffy Duck and Sylvester the cat in Looney Tunes reruns. But succotash, despite its pleasing sibilance with the word “suffering,” really cannot be associated with misery in any other context. Succotash is a beautiful side dish, an ideal pairing for grilled or smoked meats. It’s also nice in a heartier portion as a light meal, one that’s mostly vegetables.

Yes, absolutely, sweet corn is best when it's in season, so succotash is usually considered a summer meal. But the corn stays good well into fall, when succotash is just as appealing. You can also make it in the winter with frozen sweet corn for a little bit of warmth in the middle of the long cold months. 

Make a Sweetly Smoky Compound Butter

Katy Sparks’ recipe for Sweet Corn Succotash with Shiitake Mushrooms and Sugar Snap Peas starts with a pretty simple step: leave a stick of salted butter out so it gets to be soft and pliable (but not melted!). Traditional succotash is made with lima beans, but Sparks skips those in favor of the crispier delights of sugar snaps. You could use either, depending on what you have on hand. Once your butter is room temperature, mix it together with two tablespoons of smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon honey, and 1 teaspoon of minced fresh garlic. Once you’ve got the ingredients integrated into the butter, you now have a compound butter. Here, Sparks uses it to cook the succotash, but it’s also an excellent ingredient for smearing onto bread or melting atop a seared pork chop. 

Cook Everything In One Pan—But Not All at Once

The trick to Sparks’ recipe is knowing which ingredients to add when. Melt a fourth of the compound butter in a large skillet and cook the shiitake mushrooms until they’re lightly browned and tender. Then add the sugar snap peas and two tablespoons of water, and cook until they’re not raw, but haven’t totally lost their crisp factor either. Sparks recommends about four minutes. Then add the corn and a quarter cup of water, and cook the mixture together until everything is tender but the corn and sugar snaps are not yet beginning to brown. 

Add More Butter, Herbs, and Salt

Take your succotash off the heat and stir in a couple more tablespoons of the compound butter, season to taste, and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Sparks calls for basil, but parsley or cilantro would also work, if that’s what you have. Voila: Succotash, and zero suffering.