Shame on the inattentive cook who cooks okra to death. But not today: Grandma Davis’ okra stew is delicious. Grandma has a few okra plants along the siding of her house, enough for a steady supply of this vibrant green Southern staple.
A relative of hibiscus, okra is a hardy flowering plant in Grandma Davis’ New Orleans garden. Okra grows easily from seeds planted in good earth bathed in sunlight and water daily. When the plant has matured, take time to sit and watch as yellow blossoms unfurl, as delicate as butterfly wings greeting the rising sun. Scrumptious pods follow the flowers with a regularity that ensures Grandma’s cheerful disposition.
I repeat, okra is scrumptious. Today, we are having stewed okra, fried chicken, potato salad and steamed brown rice for dinner. Outside the screen door and down two steps from the porch, Grandma is filling a small Tupperware container with okra pods. Each long and tapered lady’s finger seems perfectly ripe, fat with sunshine and juicy with the flavor of green growing things.
Okra Sunny Side Up
Try Grandma Davis’ recipe for stewed okra sunny side up with good cheer and hearty appetite. Select 20 young okra pods that are tender but not soft and without bruise or blemish. The juiciest pods are those less than four inches in length. You’ll also need 2 large globe tomatoes, the riper the better. The acid from tomatoes keeps the okra from becoming slimy when cooked. Gather your other ingredients:
A single green sweet pepper
A large spoonful of good salted butter
3 sprigs of thyme
A pinch of cayenne pepper, just a little for flavor
A pinch of salt and pepper to taste
A pinch of granulated sugar
Use a suitably sized Dutch pot or one that has a thick bottom to melt the butter on medium heat. Add your mirepoix of onions and sweet pepper, and let simmer in butter until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. On low heat, add tomatoes , let cook another 2 minutes, then add okras.
Add thyme and your dry seasonings; don’t forget a pinch of sugar. Cover pot with a lid and let simmer for ten minutes; taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remember to stir occasionally while simmering.