Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Don't miss today's roasted okra recipe

As love/hate foods that divide or unite, okra is right up there with grits and livermush. (Thanks to childhood liver-aversion therapy, I've never learned the trick to loving livermush. But if you struggle with grits, remember that cheese grits are the newbie's training wheels. You're welcome.)

But okra . . . well, okra does have this tendency toward sliminess. It's called roping, and it's as much a part of the okra experience as cornmeal and a frying pan. The roping actually contributes to okra's usefulness as a thickener for dishes like gumbo, when the gooey stuff melds with the roux base to create a velvety texture.

At least, I had always assumed that okra and slime go together. Until two weeks ago, when I was reporting today's story on book-club food. Rhonda Cramer, who was hosting her club's discussion of Michael Polan's "In Defense of Food," mentioned that she would definitely be serving "the amazing roasted okra."

Roasted okra? I've made grilled okra, and fried okra, and I've stirred together my share of gumbos. But roasting okra was new to me. Cramer said she got the technique from a farmer at the Matthews Community Farmers Market. It's amazing, she assured me: It gets as crispy as potato chips, and even non-okraists love it.

At the Charlotte Regional Farmer's Market that Saturday, Dean Mullis had bags of very fresh red okra at his stand. I took a bag home and followed Rhonda's directions: Cut each pod in half lengthwise, from stem to tip. Toss them with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and about a teaspoon of salt (I used coarse kosher salt). Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in a hot oven for about 20 minutes. You want them to get really dark, almost black.

Result? No slime at all. The pieces get as crispy as potato chips. Even my non-vegetable-loving husband ate them, and my teenage son went nuts over them, fighting for the last bits on the plate.

My checks at the farmers market last weekend showed okra is still abundant. Although smaller pods are better, I had some larger pods in my batch and they worked fine. Their tips curled up like little Persian slippers and they looked very pretty.

Seriously. Non-slimy okra. Who knew?


Anonymous said...

" in a hot oven for about 20 minutes..."

please define "hot oven"...250? 300? 350? 400? 450? or is hot just "hot" when it comes to roasting okra and temp doesn't matter?

Kathleen Purvis said...

The link will take you to the story and the full recipe. In this case, 375 is a good setting. But 350 or 400 would certainly work.

Anonymous said...

The story is linked, but doesn't appear that the "full recipe" is online (yet).

Kathleen Purvis said...

Thanks for letting me know. The recipes are on the story now.

Anonymous said...

There is also my favorite, baked okra. Cut in 1/2 in chunks, batter with corn meal, bake at 350 an an oiled black fryer. Stir occasionally until corn meal browns.

Feminine Wiles said...

Cannot wait to try these! The idea reminds me of kale -- which, when roasted, is transformed into something like a crispy chip!

Ilke said...

Well, this is the only way left that I have not cooked okra. I will try this one too and see if I can get over my dislike. Thanks for the recipe!

You are right, grits is up there with okra! No butter and cheese amount have been able to convince me!

Cat said...

Finally got around to trying this after reading it weeks ago. Eating them like a snack right now. Thanks for the idea!