Limpin’ Susan

Rumor has it that Limpin’ Susan was Hoppin’ John’s secret girlfriend. Whereas Hoppin’ John is a rich and filling blend of rice and field peas, Limpin’ Susan, rice and okra, is a little more delicate and fresh. I like to make this when the market is full of small, green, tender okra pods. It’s a simple dish that becomes memorable when cooked with care and drizzled with a touch of okra seed oil.You can find more delicious recipes in Sean Brock's cookbook, South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations.

Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a main course


Vegetable Base

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 1 1/4 cups very finely diced sweet onion

  • 1 cup very finely diced celery

  • 1 cup very finely diced green bell pepper

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt


  • 4 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

  • 1 fresh bay leaf

  • 1 1/4 cups Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 pound small okra pods, caps removed, pods cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon Pepper Vinegar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons okra seed oil

  • 2 tablespoons Fines Herbes (equal parts finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, chives, and chervil)

  • 1 tablespoon Anson Mills Antebellum Benne Seeds


  1. For the vegetable base: Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 6 minutes. Remove from the stove and set aside.

  2. For the rice: Combine the water, salt, white pepper, and bay leaf in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and stir to be sure the salt has dissolved completely. Reduce the heat to medium, add the rice, stir once, and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain.

  3. Transfer the rice to another medium saucepan, discarding the bay leaf, stir in the butter, and cover to keep warm.

  4. For the okra: Heat the butter in a large skillet over high heat until foamy. Add the vegetable base and okra and cook, gently stirring often, until the butter begins to brown and the okra is just tender, about 6 minutes. Season lightly with salt and black pepper and stir in the pepper vinegar.

  5. To serve: Put the rice in a serving bowl and spoon the okra mixture on top. Drizzle with the okra seed oil and sprinkle with the fines herbes and benne seeds.


Excerpted from South by Sean Brock (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards.

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