Three Sisters Stew with Corn Dumplings
Try this traditional Native American stew by Chef Loretta Barrett Oden using corn, squash, and beans–the Three Sisters.
- ½ cup dried Anasazi beans or pinto beans
- ½ cup dried lima beans
- ½ cup dried white beans
- ½ cup dried black beans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1½ cups finely chopped yellow onion
- 1½ cups finely chopped green bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
- 1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons cumin seed
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons chile powder
- 1 (28-ounce) can peeled tomatoes, with juice
- 3 quarts water
- 3 ears corn (about 3 cups corn kernels)
- ½ cup beer
- 2 cups diced zucchini, yellow squash, and/or other summer squash
- For the Dumplings
- ½ cup yellow cornmeal
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup cooked fresh, thawed frozen, or drained canned corn kernels
- Place the beans in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Cover with water by 2 inches and soak 2 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium high heat; sauté the onions, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeño until soft, about 5 minutes. In a dry small skillet, toast the cumin seed until aromatic and lightly browned; grind in a mini food processor or coffee or spice grinder, and add to the onion mixture.
- In the same skillet, toast the cayenne and chile powder for just 1 or 2 minutes, being careful not to burn; add to the onion mixture. Add the tomatoes to the onion mixture and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the 3 quarts water and drained beans to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1½ to 2 hours.
- Cut the corn kernels off the cob. Add the beer, corn kernels, and squash and cook until the squash is tender, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- For the Dumplings: In a bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
- In another bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the egg, milk, and butter. Add the liquid mixture to the dry and mix just until incorporated; fold in the corn. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons into the slowly simmering stew (there should be about 16 dumplings). Cover and cook until a wooden toothpick inserted into the centers of the dumplings comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
- Spoon the stew into bowls and top each serving with 2 dumplings. Serve immediately.
Tips/TechniquesYou don’t have to soak beans overnight. To quick-soak: Pick and sort the beans, then cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and remove it from the heat. Let sit 1 hour. Drain off the soaking liquid and fill the pot with fresh water. Cook as directed.