Rope ’em up, Ride ’em Out – Okra Round Up

Rope ’em up, Ride ’em Out – Okra Round Up


Yeah, you can say it… “I’m one of those Pod People
I get positively gooey when anyone just mentions okra, and I’m quite possibly one of the .005% of the okra eating population that even likes it boiled. (the 1/2 bushel last month should have been a dead give away.)


So it isn’t any wonder I’ve got a couple of tickers set to key in when something new in the world of  O.K.R.A. hits the inter-verse-web-o-matic. Sometimes I’m thrilled, and sometimes… just sometimes, I’m a tad miffed.

Like the person the other day that suggested lightly coating overly long pieces of okra in coarse polenta and sauteing it in olive oil for “a minute”…. .. it made pretty pictures . … but . .


Now, I’m smart enough to know that okra lightly cooked – is still raw. And raw okra isn’t something most people want to eat….. Hell, it isn’t even something I want to eat (and I do love me some okra). If okra were meant to be eaten uncooked, you’d be finding it on every Ruby Tuesday’s, Ryan’s, and Applebee’s salad bar.


Warming up okra for that short period of time is only going to do one thing (two, actually) 
1.)  it’s going to release the mucilaginous content (the slime factors) 
and 
2.) It’s going to make you never want to try okra again.

So as a public service, I’m here to tell you the ins and outs of getting good pod.

First things first – 
If you’re an okra novice, the best thing to do is to fry it.

Let’s dispense with the ad nauseum rhetoric about losing nutrients. Sure, you lose water soluble nutrients. 
A, B, C, D, and K all run for the hills, Mother Nature dies a little inside, and a unicorn weeps rainbow tears when a vegetable is cooked. But you’re already losing that battle as soon as you cut it from the stem. 30% of all water soluble vitamins and nutrients in vegetables are lost in the first 24 hours from being picked. You just can’t win that fight. And if you’re buying your vegetables flash frozen – that’s another 25% gone in the blanching / freezing, and another 5% vaporizing along with the ice crystals in the bag. In a best case scenario, you’re losing 60 – 65% in whatever you’re doing to get it ready for the table.
Frying is only going to lose another 15%.


But here’s what you aren’t losing – 
7 Grams of dietary fiber in a cup of okra – got that? SEVEN GRAMS – that’s huge!
You can’t get 7 grams of fiber in a cup of oatmeal (4 grams). About the only thing that even comes close is a cup of raisins at 6.2 grams per cup…. and I don’t know about you… but, that’s a lot of raisins to eat in one sitting.
On top of the good – good fiber, you’re getting the added benefit of the mucilaginous cells – which act as lubrication to push all that fiber out of the way.
You’re still getting all the potassium, zinc, manganese, and magnesium, none of that dissipates, and 2 grams of protein.

 
so…yeah… fry it.
 
My family from as far back as I can remember has always dry-coated our okra, and I’ve already given you the steps to that , so I wont do it again. But I will say that I use a self rising cornmeal mix basically because I like that the fine meal gets deep into the nooks and crannies. If you don’t normally buy it – you can sub in 1 cup of coarser corn meal – 1 tablespoon baking powder and a good tablespoon of salt, instead. 
And, undoubtedly some of you may have leftovers (I can’t imagine that.. but sure… why not…) and wonder what you could possibly do with left over okra….
 
Well…
you can toss it in a bag with Parmesan cheese
 
and use them  instead of bread croutons on a salad
or…


croutons for soup

or…

Toss them with garlic powder, salt and chili powder
and add them to  your favorite snack mix


but let’s say you don’t want to go that route…

there’s always Okra Fritters…
 
 

or …


Okra Gumbo 
with Chicken and Seafood
Adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook
Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients
2- 8 Ounce Chicken Breasts – Cut into Pieces
1 Pound Shrimp – Peeled and Deveined
1 Pound Squid – Caps and Legs
2 Strips Bacon – Diced
1 Medium Onion – Diced
4 Cups Sliced Okra
1 Red Bell Pepper – Diced
1- 18 Ounce Can Whole Tomatoes
3 Cups Water
Salt and Pepper
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
1/2 Cup Rice
1/4 Cup Minced Parsley
Dutch Oven

On medium high heat, saute the bacon until lightly browned
Season the chicken with salt and pepper
Add the diced chicken and saute until cooked through – 5 to 7 minutes
Lift the chicken out and add the onions and peppers to the pot
Saute until sweated add the chicken back to the pot
Break up the tomatoes and add them, the water, okra, salt and pepper – bring to a boil
Reduce to low and add the shrimp and squid – cover and cook for 20 minutes
add the rice stir well to mix the rice through the gumbo; cover and cook another 20 minutes – stirring occasionally
Serve with hearty chunks of fresh cornbread


or..

Add split okra pods into your favorite vegetable mix,  toss with olive oil, salt and pepper
and roast in a 425 oven for 45 minutes

or..


Roasted Okra
Ingredients

1/2 pound of Small, Whole Okra per person
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Olive Oil
Use only the smallest pods – the ones 3 to 4 “
Larger okra tends to be on the woody side, which doesn’t yield the best results.
Preheat the oven to 450 

Coat a shallow baking dish with olive oil
Add okra, and season to taste. 
With your hands, roll the okra around in the olive oil, making sure they are coated all around
Bake, stirring every 5 minutes, until okra is browned on all sides – It will take  about 15 minutes. 
Serve hot out of the oven with a couple of lemon wedges for squeezing.





or…
Add it to one of your favorite recipes… like we did with Chilequiles



Plate Fodder Chilaquiles
Serves 2
Ingredients
12 Corn Tortillas
1 1/2 Cups Good Chunky Bottled Red Salsa (I’ll leave the heat up to you on that)
1 Cup Chicken Stock
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Mexican Crema
1 Cup Sliced Okra (or Frozen)
1 Scallion – Chopped
1 Sante Fe Chili (or Jalapeno) – Chopped
2 Tablespoons Oil
1 Avocado – Diced
Large Skillet
Spatula

  • Separate the tortillas and let them dry out a bit – 30 minutes or so, (or overnight if you’re doing this for breakfast)
  • Slice the tortillas into 1″ strips and add the strips and the scallions to the skillet with oil heated to medium high
  • Saute the strips around a bit in the oil until they begin to scorch on the edges
  • Add the salsa, chilies and okra
  • Fold everything under to coat with the salsa
  • Add the stock, reduce to medium low and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed
  • Make a small well in the center of the skillet and crack the 2 eggs into the well
  • Continue to cook until only the whites are set
  • Lift out onto a serving platter and top with the diced avocado and the crema

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