One of the foods around here that is loved as much as french fries and onion rings is fried okra.
Not the dry, tasteless kind you get in the freezer section but fresh, tender, delicious okra that is picked at the exact moment it is ready and then fried up within a few hours. There is just nothing like it.
Oh, and the image is mine. I am still in the process of moving my stuff from Texas Well Seasoned to here so I can close it down.
Okra is a fabulous vegetable to grow in Texas because it loves the heat. it is extremely hardy and withstands all kinds of abuse. In 2005 I planted okra in the garden. It was the only thing we had that survived a flood of our area. A flood that was so bad it the Red Cross was called in and our neighborhood was termed a National Disaster area. The water in my driveway came up to my armpits, to give you an idea. And how do I know this? I was getting my horses out of the pasture and to high ground.
It was two in the morning and it was pouring. The water from the creek was rushing and swirling. I was up to my armpits in creekwater, in the dark, and I knew without the shadow of a doubt that I was going to have a run in with a snake floating on that invisible water. You couldn’t see anything really — just shapes. As I was half swimming, half trudging back up to the house from the area we took the horses (and trying not to get swept away) I felt a firm, long, rounded tube gently push against my upper arm. It was moving on the water. I kept repeating to myself, it’s just the hose, it’s just the hose, it’s just the hose.
Luckily for me it was just the hose.
So. Okra. Amazing stuff. You should be able to pick it up at the farmer’s market or from a local grower through September if you are in Texas. Make sure the pods are small and young, they shouldn’t look dried out or woody.
Fried okra is great but this goes a step further. I picked up some Habenero-Jack cheese at the farmer’s market that is smoky, spicy, and a local artisan cheese. I cut it in matchstick type slices and then slit the fresh okra and carefully pushed the cheese in before breading and frying.
It was delicious. The stuff dreams are made of. Crispy crust, tender okra, gooey cheese… and then that slow, smoky burn from the chipotle. Put a plate of these down on the table the next time you have a group of guys over drinking Shiner and watching the Cowboys. It’s sorta like being the Kool-Aid mom but for grownups.
One more thing. My preferred oil for frying is peanut oil. It is more expensive but the flavor is purer and it fries perfectly. If you’d prefer not to use peanut oil use any light oil.
Gooey Cheese Stuffed Fried Okra
- 6 cups oil, , for frying
- 2 eggs, , beaten
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 pounds fresh okra
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- About 1/4 lb of habenero-jack or pepper-jack cheese, , cut into small matchstick slices
- Heat oil to 365 in an electric fryer
- Combine the 1-1/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup cornmeal in a large bowl.
- Add the spices.
- Put the egg in a bowl.
- Put the milk in another bowl.
- Slit the okra and genly push the cheese into the slit.
- Dip in the milk.
- Dredge in the 1/2 cup flour.
- Dip in the egg.
- Dredge in the flour/cornmeal mixture until well coated.
- Cook in small batches in the oil until golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels, salt and serve hot.