Saturday, August 28, 2010

Okra: Take it outside

They were gorgeous, damp with dew and gowned in a barely perceptible floss. In the lens of the camera, they nearly spoke out loud:  All right, Mr. DeMille. I'm ready for my close up.

If only they had been as tasty as they were beautiful, I'd really have a reason to talk even those who claim to hate okra to try it grilled. Unfortunately, while these specimens were an eyeful, they also were -- like Norma Desmond after the advent of talkies -- a mere spectre of what they were at summer's peak. While the discovery didn't lead to anything so tragic as a body in the swimming pool (we don't have one), it was a clear a signal that the days of perfect summer produce are drawing to a sad close.

I've since heard similar concerns from home gardeners, and Tim got the word this morning from some of his favorite farmer's market vendors. The vagaries of this summer's extended heat, humidity and intermittent rain have taken their toll on what normally would be still-bountiful garden beds.

It won't stop me from trying at least one more batch of grilled okra this summer. While these beauties were deceptively stringy, this simple method of grilling has a way of transforming the pods into a delectable mix of crispy surface and meltingly tender interior goo -- known by the uninitiated as the slime that seeps from sliced okra when cooked stovetop. Also, if you're lucky enough to find a nice mix of green and purple pods, they retain their colors, while the purple ones fade to green when sauteed.

2 pint containers of fresh okra (about 1 lb.)
2 tbsp. olive oil
coarse salt, fresh cracked pepper
10-12 wood skewers, soaked in water

Rinse and pat dry okra; place whole in ziptop bag. Add olive oil, salt and pepper. Seal bag, pressing out air, and roll in hands to evenly coat pods. Set on counter at least 10 minutes or until you're ready to start grilling.

Thread pods onto pairs of skewers, which makes them into easy-to-flip planks, leaving any excess oil in the bag. Grill over medium-high heat about 10-15 minutes, turning every few minutes, or until nicely charred and tender. Sample one for seasoning then serve immediately.

After dinner, call your mother and demand to know why you were never served okra as a child. If you don't like the stem ends, your dog likely will. Just remember, okra provides a high fiber experience.

We usually use the gas grill, but this really is best over charcoal. It can be cooked on an indoor grill pan but, unless the weather is awful, there's really no excuse for not taking it outside.

1 comment:

  1. Made this again last night and it was terrific. Try it soon before all the tender summer pods are gone.