|Classic Southern style, cast iron skillet fried okra.|
Classic Iron Skillet Fried OkraI ran across some of last year's okra I grew and put up, waiting in the freezer for me to use up, so I decided I better get on it and fry some up!
Okra is not hard at all to grow here in the heat of The Deep South, though you do need a nice sized area that gets plenty of sun to have enough to put up. I never manage to get more than a few pods from one stalk before they give up the ghost, but once the pods do begin to show up, they grow pretty quick and harvesting will keep them coming.
My husband is not an okra eater by any stretch of the imagination, though he will eat it when it's stewed down in some gumbo, the most common way we indulge in it down here in The Deep South. I still have a little of what I froze left that I intend to smother with some tomatoes and maybe get a nicer photo to upload on my old 2010 post. If I can manage to remember to take a picture that is. My rememberer doesn't quite work as well as it once used to.
For some reason here lately, I've been in much more of a mood to cook and eat rather than set up and style photos before eating. I think it's because it's been raining a lot and I'm already no photographer as it is. Add the lack of light from stormy skies and there's not a lot of motivation to
Unlike my deep fried okra, coated more thickly and dipped in buttermilk, this is probably the more "authentic" method of cooking fried okra in the Southern way. Y'all know by now how I feel about all that so-called authentic nonsense though, don't ya? If not, you can read some of my hissy fits here for entertainment. And here. And even here and well, a few more places scattered about on this little ole website of mine. Now somebody bless my heart please - but in the good way if you don't mind. I recently had my heart blessed in a not so good way and I'd rather not that kind.
Iron skillet fried okra is a bit messy, it's smelly, kinda greasy, but yeah, it's also good, and though it may not be my preferred method of cooking fried okra, I will, however, never turn it down if offered to me. I got to enjoy this mess of it all by my little ole lonesome. And that was just fine with me.
Here's how to make some for your own self.
Take 1 pound of small okra pods and cut them into 1/2 inch slices. The smaller pods are the most tender, so look for them around 3 to 4 inches or so in length. Any larger than that and they just get woody and tough. Rinse okra thoroughly in a colander and let drain. You can sub in frozen, sliced (un-breaded) okra as well; simply thaw and rinse.
Meanwhile, heat about 1/4 cup of cooking oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper, or dump it all into a paper bag and shake.
Add the okra and toss to coat evenly. Add chopped green tomato to the mixture if you like - it's a great combination!
Cooking in batches, transfer to the skillet using a large slotted spoon to prevent excess cornmeal from getting into the skillet oil.
Allow to fry on one side until lightly browned, then begin to stir fry, moving the okra around the skillet to avoid burning. You have to move quickly through this stir fry process because you can go from nicely browned to quickly burned black pretty fast with cast iron.
Remove to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with some kosher salt or sea salt as soon as it comes out of the skillet. Prepare the next batch, adding additional oil to skillet as needed between batches. Serve hot.
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Recipe: Classic Iron Skillet Fried Okra©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 5 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
- 1 pound small okra pods, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1/2 cup cooking oil, more or less, divided
- 1 tablespoon bacon drippings, divided, optional
- 3/4 cup all purpose cornmeal
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- Kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and Cajun seasoning (optional), to taste
Rinse okra in a colander and let drain. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, adding a dollop of the bacon drippings, if using. Combine the cornmeal, flour, salt and pepper and Cajun seasoning, if using, in a paper bag or medium sized bowl.
Toss the okra to coat evenly and transfer to the skillet using a large slotted spoon to shake off excess. Cook in batches, allowing to fry on one side until lightly browned, then begin to stir fry, moving the okra around the skillet and scraping the bottom of the skillet to avoid burning.
Transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt, to taste. Prepare next batch, adding additional oil and bacon drippings to skillet as needed between batches. Serve hot.
Cook's Notes: Choose smaller pods about 3 to 4 inches in length as they are the most tender. Any larger than that and they just get woody and tough. Substitute frozen okra if desired; simply place it in a colander, rinse well and allow to drain.
Variation: Chop one large green tomato and toss with the okra when coating. Fry together as above.
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©Deep South Dish
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