2-Way Okra – Pan-Fried or Oven-Fried

A plate of oven-fried okra
w/ Comeback  Sauce for dipping.
    Truth be told, I prefer pan-fried okra, but oven-fried uses less oil so it is healthier. Either way — I like it, and I am not a fan of fried foods! I also like it in gumbo and pickled, too.
     The green leafy plants (they are related to hollyhocks) seem to be perfectly suited to the Kansas heat; the plant's hibiscus-looking flowers turn into edible seed pods almost overnight. Pods are best when young, small (less than 3”) and tender so they really need to be picked everyday (or at least every other day). Even then, it is quite possible that a few pods will escape notice. If they are too big, I just toss them but some of the larger ones can also be fried. My rule – when slicing, the knife should cut through the pod easily; if it requires a “sawing” action, I consider it unusable. (One year I dried the large pods and turned them into Santa ornaments – don’t plan to go there this year however!)

2-Way Fried Okra  About 6 to 7 servings
1 lb. fresh okra
1 egg
½ cup buttermilk
2/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ to 1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Olive oil – about 3 to 4 tablespoons, more or less -- for frying

1. Wash okra and drain Remove tips and stem ends; cut okra crosswise into ½” slices.
2. Combine egg and buttermilk; stir in okra, and let stand about 10 minutes.
3. Combine cornmeal and next 5 ingredients (flour, baking powder, paprika, salt & pepper) in a zip-lock plastic bag.
The okra is ready to be removed from the egg mixture and will next be added to the cornmeal mixture.
4. Drain okra, small portions at a time. Using a slotted spoon, place okra in bag with cornmeal mixture, shaking gently to coat.
5. Using a slotted spoon, remove okra from cornmeal mixture
6.  Frying – 2 Ways:
a.  Oven-Fried
Lightly drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet (approximately 15”x10”x1”). Arrange  okra in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle a little additional olive oil over okra.
Okra is ready to go into the oven.
Place pan of okra in a 450° oven for 8 minutes. Stir well and add a little more oil if needed; bake an additional 7 to 10 minutes or until nicely browned.

b.     Pnn-Fried
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Carefully place okra in hot oil; let it brown on one side and then turn. Reduce heat to medium when okra first starts to brown, and cook until golden.
The okra is about ready to be turned.
 Drain on paper towels.
The nicely browned okra is allowed to drain on paper towels before serving.

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