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Food Focus: Okra

In the South, “okra” is synonymous with “fried okra.” Fried okra is an absolute treat, especially when spiced and served with a delicious dipping sauce, but there are many other ways to enjoy okra. Okra can be roasted, added to stews and curries, pickled, added to gumbo or, of course, fried. Today, we’ll discuss some facts about okra and offer two delicious recipes to get you started.

Fun Facts

  • Okra is a vegetable that comes from the plant Abelmoschus esculentus. It is a member of the hibiscus family and a distant relative of cotton; it blooms beautiful white flowers.
  • The part of the okra plant we eat is the immature seed capsule.
  • The part of the okra often referred to as “slimy” is mucilage, a mixture of proteins and molecules that helps plants and seeds retain water.
  • The mucilage can be used as a thickener for soups and stews. Quick, high-heat cooking (like frying) minimizes the mucilage that gets drawn out in cooking.
  • Okra is at its best when pods are young and less than 3” in length. When they are bigger, they can become more fibrous and less tender.
  • Some varieties of okra can be red or contain both red and green coloring.

Recipes

Fried Okra with Smoky Dipping Sauce

Yield: Serves 6
Author: Hamilton Beach Test Kitchen

Ingredients

Smoky Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Okra

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 pounds okra, tops cut off, halved lengthwise
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. In small bowl, add mayonnaise, ketchup, spicy brown mustard, honey and smoked paprika. Stir until blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Pour oil into deep fryer and preheat to 350F.
  3. Place okra and eggs in large bowl, toss until okra is well coated.
  4. In large resealable plastic bag, add panko bread crumbs, flour, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Seal bag and shake.
  5. Add half of the okra to bag. Seal bag and shake until okra is well coated.
  6. Place a single layer of okra in deep fryer basket and cook for 4 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining okra.

Notes

Easily create this Southern classic in our 8 Cup Oil Capacity Deep Fryer. The okra comes out crispy and mouth-wateringly delicious. Serve with our smoky dipping sauce for added flavor.

Slow Cooker Ground Beef Sloppy Joes

Author: Hamilton Beach Test Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 5 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3 cups ketchup
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon hamburger seasoning blend
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Sandwich or slider buns
  • Toppings: cheese, bacon, French fried onions, banana peppers, pickles

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat oil until shimmering. Add onion and cook until tender.
  2. Remove onion to a small bowl. Add ground beef. Stirring occasionally, cook until browned.
  3. Combine onion and beef in slow cooker crock.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine ketchup, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, seasoning
  5. and salt.
  6. Pour over beef in crock. Stir to thoroughly coat beef with sauce.
  7. Cover slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 1 to 2 hours or LOW for 3 to 4 hours. Turn to WARM for
  8. serving.
  9. Serve meat on sandwich buns or slider rolls. Top with desired toppings.

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