Fried Okra For Yankees!

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Scripture For The Soul
1 John 3:1   How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!

My husband grew up eating fried okra.   I didn’t.  He loves fried okra.  I don’t.  However, it is summer, okra is plentiful, and being the good wife that I am 🙂 I was preparing to fix him some okra for dinner the other night.  It seems that “Southern” is often synonymous with “fried.”  In a rare exception “fried” is also synonymous with “okra.”   There seems to be only a few things more Southern than fried okra  — breaded and dropped in a big pan of grease!  About that time I received a phone call from my friend Adrian.  I shared with her that I was treating my husband to some fresh fried okra that night although mom and I neither one eat it.  She said, “do you want to know the very best way to fix it?”
Now, okra and I go back a long ways.  Years ago I tried to show my husband I could be a “southern cook” with the best of them and I fried up a whole mess of okra – whole pod and all!  If you know okra, then you know you DON’T fry it up whole pod and all!  The optimum word here is “mess” — one big slimy, gooey mess!  Sometimes in the quiet of my kitchen I can still hear my husband roar with laughter when I proudly took the lid off the skillet and showed him my southern fried okra!  However, I digress …  I told Adrian I would love to know the best way to cook okra.  After she explained what to do I decided right then to take her suggestion and make the best okra ever!  As it turns out – she was right.  Mom and I loved it, my husband loved it, and now I just might fry okra more than once a year 🙂  Actually, I plan to do it again, add some onions and maybe even green pepper.  Oh, the possibilities are becoming endless.

Thank you Lord for the summer’s bountiful crops and for great friends with the best recipes!

Adrian’s Best Fried Okra
Ingredients:

  • Okra
  • A couple of potatoes (depending on how big a batch you want to cook up) – I used 3 Yukon gold for this recipe
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup Cornmeal or self-rising cornmeal mix (either one works fine)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Canola or peanut oil

When choosing okra, select pods that are bright green and about 3 inches or less in length. Avoid the pods that are larger. They’ll give you a “woody” end product that you won’t like.

Many people prepare the okra for frying with a batter coating.  For this recipe use just a light coating of finely ground cornmeal or self-rising cornmeal mix.  Very simple. The lighter coating gives the okra an opportunity to crisp up during the frying process.

Remove the top and tail from each pod and slice crosswise into approximately 1/2 inch pieces.  Place the sliced okra in a large bowl and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the cornmeal to bowl with the sliced okra. Using your hands, toss the okra in the cornmeal until each piece is well coated.

Wash and peel potatoes.  Dice in to fairly small pieces about the size of the okra.

Pour oil to a depth of about 1/4” in a heavy cast iron frying pan or your favorite skillet. Heat the oil over medium high heat and test for readiness by dropping a piece of the potato into the pan. If the potato immediately begins to bubble the oil is ready for cooking.

When the oil is ready add the potatoes only.  We need to give them a head start.  After a few minutes, stir and turn slightly browning potatoes and add the breaded okra.  Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until everything is golden brown and crisp on the outside.

If desired, lightly salt before serving.  Absolutely delicious!

Noteworthy:

  • Can use most any type of potato
  • Adding onions or green pepper:  saute them first, remove from skillet and set aside while frying up potatoes and okra.  Re-add to the mix about 5 minutes before everything is done.  Otherwise the onion may get too done and burn.
  • Use a large enough skillet so that potatoes and okra will lay flat and not be crowded.

 Okra, Frying, and The South

Now don’t run away just because you saw the word “fried.” I know that fried foods have a bad reputation. I know all about what the fats can do to your heart, etc.  However, I firmly believe that an occasional indulgence in foods that give you great pleasure is good for the soul. I don’t eat fried foods every day or even every week. For one thing frying makes the whole house stink for days. I don’t like that. But for the okra lover in you, it’s worth it for a plate piled high with this fried okra (and potatoes!)

Okra is an interesting plant, originating in West Africa and thought to have been brought to America about 300 years ago. It’s in the same family as cotton and hibiscus and has beautiful blossoms. If you want to know more about okra, there’s a good article at WikiPedia.

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