Makes 16 cakes
Flavors dance in the mouth in these batter cakes. Wait until everyone is gathered around before starting to cook them, and raves will be in store. This is an ideal starter for when guests’ arrival time is uncertain, or when a kitchen gathering is the order of the day. Have everything ready ahead of time except the batter. Otherwise, a stack of the still warm cakes on the buffet table entices those who want a dollop of sour cream. These are just enough to whet the appetite, a cross between fried okra and cornbread.
4 slices cooked bacon, drippings reserved
1 cup cooked okra
11/2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
12/3 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Shortening or vegetable oil for frying
Sour cream, optional
Finely chop the cooked bacon and okra.
Up to 2 hours before serving, whisk together cornmeal mix, flour and sugar in a bowl. Stir in buttermilk, butter and eggs until just mixed. Add finely chopped bacon and okra to batter.
Heat a griddle or large iron skillet until hot. Add enough oil to coat the bottom. Sprinkle in a bit of batter to test that the pan is hot enough to sizzle and that the batter is a pourable consistency. Add water to thin if necessary. Ladle 1/4 cup batter for each griddle cake onto hot griddle and cook until the top of the pancake is dotted with large bubbles and the bottom is light brown. Turn with a large spatula, and cook until the other side is lightly browned. Keep warm in a 200-degree oven on a rack over a baking sheet or serve immediately. Continue with the rest of the batter until all is gone.
Serve hot with optional sour cream.
Nathalie Dupree is the author of 11 cookbooks, most recently “Southern Biscuits.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached through Nathaliedupree.com.