Samantha Mairano’s succotash risotto complements a summer favorite

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From the May 2021 issue


Samantha Mairano is a true-blue Sussex County native. While growing up near Bethany Beach, she helped her grandmother bread the chicken destined for bubbling hot oil. 

Her job at D.B.’s Fries, a small Bethany Beach eatery near the ocean, was the first step in her dedicated restaurant career. “I’ve never been in another field,” she says. “I’ve worked every restaurant position.”

After 19 years in Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C., she moved back to her home state. She is now executive chef and food-and-beverage director of the Landing Bar & Grille in the Plantation Lakes Golf & Country Club community.

Mairano brings a familiar touch to the dishes there. The mainstays of crab and chicken are reimagined as grilled chicken over crab ravioli with roasted corn and Old Bay-white wine cream sauce. Her scallops and succotash dish is another example.

Succotash is a staple in southern Delaware. Perhaps that’s because the two common ingredients — cornand lima beans — are local favorites. Mairano blends the two sides of her heritage by mixing succotash with risotto, an Italian rice dish.

Risotto demands attention. Cooks must spoon small amounts of warm liquid into the grains and constantly stir to release the starch. When the liquid is nearly gone, they repeat the process until the rice is creamy — without adding cream — yet the grains are still somewhat firm to the bite (al dente).

Mairano’s succotash risotto also complements pork chops, she says. But she uses seafood when possible. “We have a lot of incredibly fresh seafood in this area,” she says. “The sky is the limit when it comes to using it creatively.”



(Serves 1-2)

For the risotto:

tablespoons of olive oil

tablespoons of unsalted butter 

white onion, diced 

cup of arborio rice

quarts of warm seafood stock 

teaspoon of garlic, chopped

cup of frozen succotash cooked    according to package directions. (If using fresh lima beans and corn, cook them in advance.)

STEP 1 Add oil and butter to a large, shallow pot. Melt the butter.

STEP 2 Gently cook the diced onion for two to three minutes until it’s softened but not brown.

STEP 3 Pour in the arborio rice and toast the grain for two to three minutes, stirring constantly.

STEP 4 Ladle enough stock to cover the rice. Stir until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Continue adding small amounts of stock and stirring until the rice absorbs it. You may need to do this for 20 to 30 minutes until the rice has a creamy texture.

STEP 5 Meanwhile, pour a little oil in a saute pan and cook the garlic, being careful not to let it burn. When it’s tender and fragrant, add the cooked succotash until it’s warm.

STEP 6 Pour the risotto into the succotash and mix.

For the scallops:

5-6 U10 sea scallops

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

STEP 1 Season the scallops with salt and pepper.

STEP 2 Heat a separate saute pan on high.

STEP 3 Pour a touch of the oil in the saute pan to coat the bottom.

STEP 4 Add the scallops to the pan, and don’t touch them for two to three minutes. Don’t force them off the pan; they will release when ready.

STEP 5 Flip the scallops and cook another two minutes.

For the aioli:

teaspoons of capers

tablespoons of lemon juice

cup of mayonnaise

Mix the lemon and capers into the mayo.

To serve:

STEP 1 Place some risotto on the plate.

STEP 2 Position the scallops on the risotto.

STEP 3 Drizzle the lemon-caper aioli on top.