Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fried Okra; from the garden, to the freezer, to the table.

Since I've got such a lovely bunch of okra plants in the garden,  I'm going to be putting bags of okra in the freezer for later this year.  That's a good thing, because I love okra.  And I won't qualify that in any way.  I like stewed okra, pickled okra, fried, ...any way you can serve it, I like it.  However, my favorite of all is fried okra, and I've tried many different recipes over the years and have come to this as the nadir of fried okra perfection.
So without further ado...
Because I'm going to put this bunch in the freezer for demonstrative purposes today, I blanched this freshly picked mess of okra.  That just means that I  dunked it into some boiling water for a few seconds, then into a bowl of cold water.  It's important to do that if you're going to freeze it. 
Then I'm going to chop it into rounds of approximately 1/4 inch.
Next, I'm going to put the chopped okra into a bowl of buttermilk, and stir it up to make sure it's coated well.

Then pour the whole mess of okra and buttermilk into a big strainer and shake it up to get as much excess buttermilk as you can drained out of there.

Put 2 cups of cornmeal into a cake pan.  Then put 1 cup of self-rising flour in.  Add salt (1tsp.) and mix it up, fingers will do.
Throw the okra into the cake pan with the cornmeal/flour/salt mixture and really shake it around, and keep doing it until all the okra is coated and dry.  "Shakeum, shakeum, shakeum, ..."  (remember that playground game?),  then let it sit for a while to bond.

Next pour that whole mess into a colander with large holes and shake  the excess cornmeal out.
Spread the okra on a sheet pan,  I lined mine with parchment paper, but you don't have to.

Pop it into the freezer, and in an hour or two it should be frozen enough to put into a zip-loc bag.

When you are ready to cook the frozen okra, pour about an inch of peanut oil into a fry pan and get it hot, cook okras about 5 minutes, stiring once to turn.
Don't over-crowd the pan.  Sprinkle more salt on the cooked okra.  This is a great side for barbeque or pork chops, or as an appetizer.  You can't do much better than this, if you love okra.

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