I am probably one of the few non-Southerners who loves okra. I usually don’t buy it at the supermarket – only when it pops up at the green market in the fall does it make it to our table. It is such an interesting looking vegetable, particularly when it is the purple variety. When I have time and the price is right, I will pickle a good amount of okra. It makes a great accompaniment to charcuterie or cheese platters. But, as often as not, I will give it a quick stir-fry all by itself or mix it up with some tomatoes and onions. But occasionally – particularly when I’ve made cornbread or have shrimp on hand – I’ll turn them into my version of maque choux, that traditional Louisiana side dish that usually features just corn, bell peppers, and onion. Cornbread makes a good dipping tool and shrimp can turn it into a sorta gumbo. I never cook okra very long as I’m not a fan once it starts to get slimy. Although recently someone told me that if you blanch it for a minute or so, it stays bright green and doesn’t get slimy. I haven’t tried that method so can’t recommend it, but you might want to give it a try.
2 tablespoons bacon grease (or any fat you like)
½ cup chopped red onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced hot green or red chile or to taste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup fresh corn kernels
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cups sliced okra
¾ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
½ cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Hot sauce, optional
Heat the bacon grease in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chile, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes or until the onion is softening. Stir in the corn and bell pepper and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until just barely tender. Stir in the okra and then quickly add the cream, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes or just until slightly thick. Don’t cook too long as you don’t want the okra to start oozing – you want it slightly crisp.
Remove from the heat and stir in the scallions and parsley. Taste and, if necessary, season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.