Forefathers’ Day, December 22nd – It’s about the Succotash!

It’s all about the Succotash, the succotash… 🙂

Plymouth Succotash. Credit: Courtesy of Culinary Historians of Boston

Found in the Mrs. Lincoln Boston Cook Book – 1884

”     Succotash is the great dish in Plymouth at every celebration of Forefathers’ Day, December 22.  Tradition says it has been made in that town ever since the Pilgrims raised their first corn and beans, and it is supposed they learned to make it from the Indians.
Strangers are rather shy of this peculiar mixture; but it is a favorite dish with the natives, and to this day is made by some families many times through the winter
season. Although the dish has never been made by the writer, it has been tested by her in that ancient town many times, and the excellence of the following receipt
is unquestionable. It is given in the name of Mrs.Barnabas Churchill of Plymouth, a lady who has made it for fifty years after the manner handed down through many generations.
One quart of large white beans (not the pea beans) ; six quarts of hulled corn, — the smutty white Southern corn; six to eight pounds of corned beef, from the second cut of
the rattle rand; one pound of salt pork, fat and lean; chicken weighing from four to six pounds; one large white French turnip; eight or ten medium-sized potatoes.
Wash the beans, and soak over night in cold water. In the morning put them on in cold soft water. When boiling, change the water, and simmer until soft enough to
mash to a pulp and the water is nearly all absorbed. Wash the salt pork and the corned beef, which should be corned only three or four days. Put them on about
eight o’clock, in cold water, in a very large kettle, and skim as they begin to boil. Clean, and truss the chicken as for boiling, and put it with the meat about an hour and
a quarter before dinner time. Allow a longer time if a fowl be used, and keep plenty of water in the kettle.
Two hours before dinner time, put the beans, mashed to a pulp, and the hulled corn into another kettle, with some of the fat from the meat in the bottom to keep them from
sticking. Take out enough liquor from the meat to cover the corn and beans, and let them simmer where they will not burn. Stir often, and add more liquor if needed.
The mixture should be like a thick soup, and the beans should absorb all the liquor, yet it must not be too dry.
Pare, and cut the turnip into inch slices; add it about eleven o’clock, and the potatoes (pared) half an hour later. Take up the chicken as soon as tender, that it
may be served whole. Serve the beef and pork together, the chicken, turnip, and potatoes each on separate dishes, and the beans and corn in a tureen. The meat usually
salts the mixture sufficiently, and no other seasoning is necessary. Save the water left from the meat, to use in warming the corn and beans the next day, serving the
meat cold. This will keep several day’s in cold weather ; and like many other dishes, it is better the oftener it is warmed over, so there is no objection to making a large quantity. The white Southern corn is considered the only kind suitable for this ancient dinner. ”

Here’s my interpretation of the recipe.

Succotash Recipe – pre 1884

  • 1 quart large white beans (not peas)
  • 6 quarts hulled corn (corn cut from the cob)
  • 6-8 pounds corned beef
  • 1 pound salt pork
  • 4-6 pound chicken whole
  • 1 large white turnip
  • 8-10 medium size potatoes

Wash beans and soak over night.  Boil beans, then change the water, and bring back to a simmer.  Simmer beans until soft enough to mash.  Wash salt port and corned beef.  Put both in a pot of water and bring to a boil.  Truss chicken and put in the meat to cook for an hour and 15 minutes.  Put the mashed beans and hulled corn into a pot with some fat (little oil to keep from sticking to the pot).  Take enough of the water from the meat pot to cover the corn.  Simmer.  The corn and bean mixture will be thick like soup. Pare and cut the turnip into slices and the potatoes into cubes.  Cook until tender and serve separate with the meal.