Monday, July 27, 2009

Okra and Tomatoes

While we are talking about food....

Very few people outside the South eat okra and that is understandable. It is a little weird and if you do nothing but boil it, it can be a little daunting what with the 'slime' and all. The thing is that with a little knowledge and the right handling okra can be a delicious food and for gardeners it is pretty easy to grow. It is a required ingredient in a good gumbo since its natural 'slime' thickens the stew just like file powder(sassafras powder).

I did this recipe for the dinner party last weekend for 48 and since that time it has received many compliments...even from people who thought they didn't like okra. While my bread is baking I thought I would cast it out to the ether and save it for eternity.

This recipe is adapted from one I found in 'How to Cook a Pig and Other Back to the Farm Recipes' a cookbook from a previous First Lady of Georgia, Betty Talmadge. The original recipe comes from the Talmadge family black cook Cile.

You'll need:

2 Tablespoons of olive oil (the original recipe calls for bacon drippings)
1 pound of okra, cut in about half in pieces(stem end removed). You can use a 10 oz. package of frozen okra just make sure it is not breaded)
4 fresh tomatoes cut in pieces(peel optional) or a 1 16 oz. can of tomatoes
1 onion chopped ( I use Vidalia onions but use what you have)
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp sugar

Heat the oil or bacon drippings in a large frying pan and add the okra to the hot oil and sprinkle with a dash of kosher salt. Stir the okra over medium high heat until 'the slime goes away" but I just watch until I start to get a little browning on the cut ends of the okra. The high heat will make the slime go away. Add the tomatoes and onions, Worcestershire and sugar and pepper and additional salt if you want and transfer to an oven proof casserole. Cover and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour in a 350F oven. You can keep this warm for a while before serving. One thing you don't want to do is add any additional water or will get the slime back. This should serve 4 or 6 people as a side dish. You can cook this dish all on the stove top but I think the baking makes a better product.

Like I said above I made a large batch based of this recipe (5 pounds of okra) for 48 people last weekend and it was a big hit even with non okra eaters. I did use canned San Marzano tomatoes in my dish because that is what I had on hand and I also added thinly sliced heirloom tomatoes on top before baking. It held up very well even after sitting in a warm oven for two hours.

Give it a try.

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