Friday, August 2, 2013

Classic Iron Skillet Fried Okra

Classic Southern style, cast iron skillet fried okra.

Classic Iron Skillet Fried Okra

I 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 style mess around much with your food. Especially when you are hungry to begin with!

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.

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.

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.

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 of small okra pods, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1/2 cup of cooking oil, more or less, divided
  • 3/4 cup of all purpose cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup of 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. 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 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.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on August 2, 2013
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  1. yum.......that reminds me ..........we also have some in the freezer from last year to cook up...............going to do it this rememberer is not working as well

    1. :) You are in good company because I'd forgotten all about mine too till I ran across it!!

    2. My mother used to chop green tomatoes up and toss with the okra and corn meal mixture then fry it all up together. it was delicioius

  2. You found another way to make me lonesome for Louisiana: fried okra. I like okra any way it can be fixed except pickled.

  3. Just the way Bev makes it - we have some in the fridge that needs cooking.

  4. My absolute favorite, I could eat it like popcorn.

    1. That's why I use the powdered Popcorn Salt on Fried Okra - really sets it off!

    2. That's why I use popcorn salt on Fried Okra, it really enhances the flavor. Try it next time!

  5. Um, we'll be making this for sure! Farmers market, here we come!

  6. Where does the smelly part come in? Do you mean if it burns it's smelly?

  7. love okra cooked in my cast iron skillet! I picture that stuff in heaven! haha
    I also love okra any way it comes, even pickled!!

  8. My husband cooks ours this way, too. The only difference is that he also add thinly sliced strips of onions to the flour mixture and fries them down with the okra at the same time. Delicious! We are all standing around waiting for them to be ready!

  9. I'm glad I'm not the only one having problems with her remembering thing

    1. Oh my goodness Judy - I don't know if it's age, or just so many things being on my mind at once but it's pretty crazy!!

  10. Replies
    1. Most sources will tell you to blanch first to store it for the freezer & stop the process of the enzymes breaking down the okra and causing spoilage. Rinse, pat dry, then trim the very tips of the okra stems (not the pointed tip but the stem end), but not so much that you cut into the seed pod. Bring a gallon of water to a boil and drop in the whole okra pods, preferably in some kind of a basket that contains them rather than letting them boil all around in the pot loose. Return to a boil and let boil for 3 to 4 minutes depending on the size. Drain and place into a bowl that is placed inside another bowl of iced water to chill and stop the cooking process. Then spread them out on a baking sheet covered with a silpat, piece of parchment or wax paper to freeze individually, after that transfer to a large freezer bag once they are hard frozen. I find that they still tend to release a little goo even when blanched whole, so don't be caught by surprise if they release a little slime. When you want to use them sliced, slice while they are still partially frozen. Now... that said, the okra you see pictured, I just rinsed, patted dry, cut up and spread on a baking sheet and froze without blanching since I mostly use it for frying. While that isn't the recommended process and so I also can't endorse it, I personally really didn't notice that the okra suffered at all, but still, it may not be the best way to freeze them. Use at your own risk! :)

  11. I've always been a woose and fried mine in a non-stick. Feeling brave and pinning this to try soon. Also love your cornmeal mixture better than what I use. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. There's not a thing wrong with non-stick - I use it a lot too! That cast iron is getting to be awfully heavy for me to manage these days Lea Ann.

    2. Ann/ Deep South Kentucky
      If u take a Beer & mix with flour & cornmeal & deep fry . It will make u want to slap your MAMA.
      I deep fry a lot of veggies that way. I like Okra best.

    3. Beer battered okra! I like the way you think.

  12. I remember my Mama using a brown paper bag and shake, shake, shaking it to coat foods she was frying. I've always been a little intimidated when it comes to frying. I never know how hot to get the oil. I have a gas range and have no idea where to set the flame. I think I'll try to conquer my fear with this recipe. Also, I try not to eat a lot of fried foods but this will be an exception. Pinning it to try!!


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