For all the okra lovers, this will be a treat. Okra Gumbo is a side dish that my Mom made every summer. It reminds me of my childhood, Mom in the kitchen frying okra and the wonderful smell of bacon and tomato. I’ve never found any recipe that is quite like Mom’s, and believe me I’ve looked. I’ll have to cook this from memory, I don’t think the recipe is written anywhere and I don’t ever want to forget it. It’s just that good!
My first pickings of the summer. I went out to my little garden patch and was surprised that the first okra pods were ready to pick. Just a couple days ago they were little nubs and I had no idea they would be ready this soon. It was such a little amount, but I was determined to make some gumbo even if it’s just enough for me.
I’ve put together a mix to dredge the okra in. Throw it in a ziplock bag. Make sure to drain the okra with a slotted spoon and then put a few okra in at a time and shake the bag. If you have a small amount like I do you can keep adding it until they are all coated.
They will look like this. I prefer to pan fry rather than deep fry but that’s just me. A little of the coating will come off with pan frying, but the crumbs will remain and go in the gumbo just the same. You’ll see what I mean.
Pour enough canola oil to coat a cast iron skillet. To maintain more coating, layer the okra in a single layer and cook in batches. It will start to brown quickly and need to be turned. It will only take a few minutes to brown and crisp on all sides. If you’re making batches, add a little more oil to the pan before adding the next batch.
4 cups Okra
1 cup Buttermilk
1 cup Flour
1 cup Cornmeal
1 teaspoon Salt
Canola Oil for frying
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
6 – 8 slices Bacon
1 medium Onion, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
Salt to taste
Cut okra into 1/2 inch pieces and place in a bowl. Cover okra with buttermilk and set aside. Mix together flour, cornmeal salt and cayenne pepper. Put the mix into a ziplock bag and using a slotted spoon add okra a few at a time. Shake the bag to coat all pieces of okra. Over medium high heat, add enough canola oil to coat the inside of a cast iron skillet. Again, using a slotted spoon add a single layer of breaded okra to the pan and brown. You will want to make this in batches. When the first batch is brown and crisp, remove to a bowl lined with a paper towel. Add additional canola oil to the pan for the next batch. When you have finished the okra, add bacon to the same pan and cook, stirring frequently. Once the bacon is brown and crisp, remove from pan (leaving the bacon grease) to a plate lined with a paper towel. Add the onion and cook a few minutes until onion becomes translucent. Add the okra, bacon and diced tomato back to the pan along with the onion and stir gently until the tomato starts to break down. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with parsley. Salt to taste.