April 19, 2007

Cooking Up Okra

If there is one thing a southern girl knows it’s good fried okra.

As a kid my brothers and I could be found most summers in my parent’s huge garden picking produce, mulching and helping gather peas, okra, corn and whatever else my parents needed help with.

I laugh when I look back of photos my mother shot of me in the garden. Usually I could be found barefoot, wearing this little blue summer dress my Grandmother Baldwin had given me and my mother’s straw gardening hat. I loved feeling the dirt between my toes and running through the sprinklers that were set up all throughout the garden.

I was reminder of these wonderful garden memories the other day when I was watching an episode of Paula’s Home Cooking where Paula was frying up a batch of Cajun fried okra (one of my favorite comfort foods).

Her recipe reminder me of when I was a little girl helping my mother fry up a batch of freshly picked okra for the boys in our family. My mother always used buttermilk and Cajun seasonings for her own fried okra and it was delicious every time. But, she always served fried okra with a homemade ranch dipping sauce. Paula, however, serves her okra with a Creamy Chili Sauce.

Thanks Paula for another wonderful southern fried recipe.

(Photo from Food Network)

Cajun Fried Okra
By Paula Deen

6 cups oil, for frying
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons House Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Cajun spice
2 pounds fresh okra, sliced, 1/2-inch thick
1/2 cup buttermilk Creamy Chili Sauce, recipe follows

Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven to 350 degrees F. (You may not need to use this much oil; do not fill the pan more than halfway up the sides with oil.)

In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, House Seasoning, and Cajun spice. Dip okra in buttermilk and then dredge in cornmeal-flour mixture to coat well. Carefully add okra to the hot oil and cook until golden brown. (It may be necessary to fry the okra in batches.) Remove from oil, drain on paper towels, and then serve immediately.

Creamy Chili Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon garlic chili pepper sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, stirring well. Cover and chill.

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