Monday, November 7, 2016


     Mayan Style Succotash!
     The Narragansett Tribe from the Rhode Island area called a stew of beans and maize by the name Msíckquatash.  The Narragansett word Msíckquatash sounds like Succotash when it is pronounced.  Early European American settlers were introduced to Msíckquatash and they phonetically spelled the name of this stew.  The word Succotash is used to describe a bean and corn stew even in this modern age.
     The Narragansett Tribe may have been credited with the first recorded Succotash recipe, but nearly every tribe in the new world already had a similar recipe of their own.  For example, the Navaho make a bean, squash and corn stew that can be described as Succotash.  I forget what the name of this vegetable stew is in Navaho language, but in plain English, it is called Four Corners Stew at the Navaho Fire Rock Casino restaurant in New Mexico.      
     Maize and beans are two of the three items in the Native American food trinity, which is called "The Three Sisters."  The third food item in the trinity is squash.  Beans, corn and squash is all that is needed in a daily diet to live a long healthy life.    
     The Mayan name for Msíckquatash is Chulibu'ul.  Both words mean nearly the same thing, even though they are different languages.  The Mayan version is made with Pinto Beans, which are a local varietal.  Chile peppers are an important part of Mayan cuisine and they are added to Chulibu'ul too.
     Cascabel Peppers are called Cabo around the Mayan Riviera region.  Cascabel Peppers are called Sleigh Bell Peppers in English.  Chile Cascabel are medium spicy hot and the flavor tastes like a combination of aged dry red wine, classic red chile pepper and tobacco.  Cascabel are some very tasty peppers!
     Nearly every tribe in Mexico knows of the benefits of Epazote.  The Aztecs are famous for the use of Epazote in their cooking and the same can be said about Mayan cuisine.  Epazote cures many digestive problems and it keeps the gaseous side effects of beans to a minimum.  Nearly every refritos recipe requires Epazote.  A word of caution is necessary, because large amounts of epazote can cause severe health problems or death.  In small quantities, Epazote is beneficial to health.  Just a few pinches of Epazote is enough for a large pot of beans.
     I prefer to purchase fresh epazote and and hang the herb stalks upside down in my kitchen.  I use the epazote fresh, till it dries.  Later, I crumble the dried epazote as needed in recipes.  Epazote is an herb with a flavor of its own.  The flavor of Epazote is best when it is fresh, but the medicinal effects are still present in dried Epazote.
     Sweet Corn is not really the best choice for traditional Native American recipes  Sweet Corn is a hybrid that is designed for European tastes and the manufacture of corn syrup.  All Sweet Corn currently comes from GMO seed stock, which poses a health threat and of humans and environmental consequences.
     It is best to select heirloom corn varietals when making a native dish like Succotash.  Native maize comes in a wide variety of colors, flavors and kernel sizes.  Most native heirloom corn is savory, not sweet tasting.  Native heirloom maize is much healthier to eat than GMO Sweet Corn too.  I chose an heirloom blue speckled yellow corn for today's recipe.

     This recipe yields about 2 1/4 cups.  (1 hearty portion)  
     Mayans traditionally mash the beans when making Chulibu'ul.  Some like the beans tender and whole.  Either style is okay.
     Step 1:  Cut the kernels off of 1 ear of Heirloom Blue Speckled Yellow Corn.
     *Any heirloom corn varietal is good for this recipe.  Try to avoid GMO Sweet Corn.
     Place the corn kernels in a sauce pot.  (About 1 cup)
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of rinsed cooked pinto beans (or rinsed canned pinto beans).
     Add 1 tablespoon of roasted lard.
     Add 1 pinch of minced epazote.
     Add 1 finely chopped green onion.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.  (Optional.  Many native recipes require little or no salt.)
     Add 1 pinch of black pepper.  (Optional.)
     Step 3:  Pop the stem off of 1 dried Cascabel Chile Pepper.
     Shake the seeds out of the Cascabel Pepper.  (Discard the seeds.)
     Crush and chop the Cascabel Pepper into small pieces.
     Add the crushed Cascabel Pepper to the pot.
     Step 4:  Add enough water to cover the ingredients with 1" of extra liquid.
     Place the sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the ingredients are tender and most of the liquid evaporates.
     *Mashing the beans is optional.
     Keep the Chulibu'ul warm over very low heat.
     Step 6:  Place the Chulibu'ul in a shallow stew bowl.
     Garnish with a cilantro sprig.

     Tasty healthy Mayan Chulibu'ul!