February 29, 2008

Smoky Spicy Fried Okra

1/2 lb okra, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons ground chipotle pepper
2 teaspoons smoked paprika

canola oil for frying

Place the okra and the buttermilk in a bowl and allow to soak 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the paprika, salt, pepper, chipotle pepper, and cornmeal. Set aside. Drain the okra and place it in the bowl. Shake to coat. Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add the okra in a single layer. Cook until all sides are golden brown, turning occasionally. This step should only take a couple of minutes, do not over cook. Remove to paper towel lined plates. Serve hot.

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My thoughts:
I love okra in any form but I know not everyone shares my undying devotion to the vegetable. Everything tastes good fried so this is a great way to convert people to the way of the okra. Okra doesn't have an assertive flavor but it can stand up to some spice. In this case the chipotle and paprika add a bit of spice and smoky favor that adds flavor interest without being overwhelming. The trick to grease free fried okra is making sure the okra is thoroughly covered in the cornmeal mixture, the oil is really hot before you start to fry and quick draining afterwards. I like them plain, but I've heard rumours of people dipping them in ranch dressing if that is your sort of thing.