Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Okra Succotash and Justin Wilson

I don't know if Justin Wilson was THE original Cajun TV chef, but in our book he was and remains the most beloved.

Back when Bob and I were newlyweds, before children, before the big yard to mow, before....well...you know....during that honeymoon period when you pretty much have no priority other than each other and your job and friends, we would lazy around the house all day on Saturdays. And an important part of our Saturday routine was watching Justin Wilson's show on PBS. He was so entertaining with his jokes and sense of humor and the food he made looked mouth-wateringly yummy! (Click HERE if you'd like to hear his voice or order his cookbooks.)

This was also way before the Internet, too, and even personal computers, for that matter! The only way to get Justin's recipes was to order his cookbook or to jot down guestimates of what he was "trowing" in the pot. Since our budget couldn't handle ordering expensive cookbooks from PBS, I would sit with pencil and paper in hand through each show in hopes of getting down all the ingredients to try in my own kitchen.

One dish that I've made for years is Okra Succotash and it was inspired by Justin Wilson. I'd be willing to bet it's not precisely like his, but it sure is good! This is a great dish for this season because you can find everything in the grocery store or farmers' markets right now. And did I mention that it is really good and fresh-tasting? It freezes well, too.

Now, a word about okra. If you are buying fresh okra, the pods must be no more than about 3 inches long and with no brown on them. Longer, and they get tough and stringy. Also pay attention to the price. Frozen sliced okra works just as well as fresh in this recipe without compromising a thing, so buy the frozen (do not defrost) if the value is better or you are short on prep time. There is no okra slime in this dish if you follow the directions to cook the okra till it loses its slime...works every time!

Oh, and fresh corn is best, but frozen works great, too. If you can't find really good fresh tomatoes, use canned diced tomatoes. This is NOT a fussy recipe at all! Make lots of this now and freeze it to use this winter.

Okra Succotash

Serves 10-12

6 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
4 T. reserved bacon drippings
2 c. chopped onion
2 c. chopped green bell pepper
½ tsp. or more ground cayenne pepper
1 (16 oz.) bag frozen sliced okra (4 c. fresh)
1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn (4 c. fresh)
3 med. tomatoes, chopped (or one large can diced tomatoes, drained)
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large sauté pan, sauté onion, green bell pepper, and cayenne pepper in bacon drippings until onion is limp. Add frozen okra and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until okra has lost most of its “slime.” Add corn and tomatoes. Mix well and simmer, uncovered, until the corn is cooked (about 10 minutes). Stir in the crumbled bacon and salt and pepper to taste.

Bon Appétit!
Chef Debbie

1 comment:

Yummy~issimo! said...

I have two clients who are from "the south" y'all, and I know they're going to love this recipe. You've hit a winner out of the park again Deb! Thanks so much :)