Growing up we ate good… when I say good, I mean good southern meals that consisted of meat, veggies, and a starch (maybe 2)… and at least half of the meal was fried. Then as we neared the end of the 80’s and moved into the 90’s, as a culture we were told that all things butter or oil (even worse crisco…) were bad and that nothing should be fried…. and slowly the yummy recipes like fried okra were cooked less and less.
Although we are now learning that they won’t kill us as quickly as we once thought, our family now enjoys these treats without as much guilt. The 90’s did take their toll on my childhood food memories though, there was about a 10 year period that I don’t remember my mom making fried okra at all… But I am on a mission to bring it back!!
When I was at my folks house this last week, my mom made Real Southern Fried Okra for us, the way that she used to make it when we were kids and how her mom taught her. If you use gluten free corn meal (like we did) this recipe is also gluten free!!
Here is what you will need:
2-3 lbs of fresh okra cut into 1/2 inch pieces and the ends cut off
2-2 1/2 cups of corn meal (we use gluten free cornmeal)
1 tablespoon of salt
1/2 tablespoon of pepper
2 cups of Crisco (yes crisco, this is the real southern recipe, remember??) Enough for approx. 1 inch when melting in your frying pan. Or if you want to avoid the chemicals, use 2 cups of vegetable oil
Cut your okra into 1/2 inch pieces and place them in a large mixing bowl. Make sure the bowl has plenty of extra room so you can easily mix in the ingredients. Crack your 2 eggs directly into the bowl of okra and using a spoon scoop from the bottom of the bowl and “fold” the okra and eggs until the okra is completely coated with the eggs. This will probably take 1-2 minutes. You fold it together to prevent from crushing or breaking the okra.
Place crisco in a large frying pan and turn to medium high heat, watch carefully as you finish preparing the okra. We use a cast iron skillet (the only REAL way to make it!) but any frying pan will do.
Mix your salt and pepper with approx. 1 cup of corn meal, sprinkle the corn meal over the okra.
Fold the corn meal into the okra until it is evenly distributed.
Keep adding approx. 1/4 cup of corn meal and mixing until the corn meal appears to be dry and not wet from the egg. You will probably end up adding a total of 2 cups of corn meal, but it varies each time depending on the amount of moisture on the okra.
Once you have enough cornmeal added, test a few pieces of okra in the crisco to make sure it is hot enough, it should immediately sizzle when added to the pan.
Once the grease (I mean crisco…) is hot enough add the okra, you can usually add until it is 2 layers deep in the pan and the grease will bubble up to cook the top layer.
DO NOT STIR. Allow the okra to cook for about 3-5 minutes (depending on how hot you are cooking it).
Check a few pieces to see if they are turing golden brown. If they are, go ahead and carefully (so you don’t splash grease) turn small section over at a time to make sure the okra is getting cooked on all sides.
Cook an additional 3-5 minutes until it is golden brown on both sides. Remove okra to a plate or bowl lined with paper towels.
Add the rest of the okra (if you have any) to the pan and repeat the steps above.
Note: when you cook the second batch the grease will usually “foam” up. make sure not to add too much where it overflows your pan. I’m not entirely sure why but it usually foams on when the grease is re-used and it is “dirty” so make sure and do not use grease that other food was cooked in when you cook your okra.
Enjoy this as a side dish or as an appetizer. I have notice in the past few years that many southern or BBQ restaurants are putting fried okra on the appetizer menu and serving it with ranch dressing to dip it in, it is one of our favorites to order when we see it and now you can make it for your family at home!
Do you have a favorite recipe that you haven’t made in a while that needs to be revived?
- 2-3 lbs of fresh okra cut into ½ inch pieces and the ends cut off
- 2-2½ cups of corn meal (we use gluten free cornmeal)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- ½ tablespoon of pepper
- 2 cups of Crisco (yes crisco, this is the real southern recipe, remember??) Enough for approx. 1 inch when melting in your frying pan.
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