Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas
Fried Okra Recipes
Deep-fat frying, a no-no today, isn’t the problem when serving fried okra. The main concern is fending off the folks waiting to eat the crispy morsels.
Louis Van Dyke of Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle, Georgia, credits his mother for his fried okra recipe. His mother left him and his wife, Billie, a legacy of recipes that yield all the tasty dishes savored at the inn’s restaurant. “We use only fresh okra for frying,” he says. “It’s cut, dipped in buttermilk and egg, salted and peppered, dredged in cornmeal, and then deep-fried.”
When talking about okra, Louis laughs and admits, “Fried okra and okra cooked in soup are the only ways I like it. No boiled or steamed okra for me.”
Clearly, okra connoisseurs are like pound cake lovers—everyone has their favorite recipe. If bacon drippings aren’t used, try adding them. We added them in our favorite Fried Okra recipe, and it made this classic Southern side even better.
Fried Okra Recipe
1 lb. fresh okra
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup self-rising cornmeal
1 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1/4 cup bacon drippings
1. Cut off and discard tip and stem ends from okra; cut okra into 1⁄2-inch-thick slices. Stir into buttermilk; cover and chill 45 minutes.
2. Combine cornmeal and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Remove okra from buttermilk with a slotted spoon, and discard buttermilk. Dredge okra, in batches, in the cornmeal mixture.
3. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a dutch oven or cast-iron skillet; add bacon drippings, and heat to 375°. Fry okra, in batches, 4 minutes or until golden; drain on paper towels.