Fried okra must be served immediately; prepare it at the last minute when the rest of the meal is all ready to be served. It may seem that this recipe calls for a great deal of okra, but frankly, the family will snitch the first batch while you’re cooking the second in the kitchen.
2 pounds okra
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups peanut oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Wash and drain the okra. Cut off the caps on the stem ends and cut okra into 1/4-inch slices or pieces. In a bowl combine the corn meal, flour, and salt, add half the okra, and toss. Spread out on a flat surface to dry for a few minutes, then toss in corn meal and flour again.
Meanwhile, pour in enough oil to reach halfway up the side of an iron skillet or frying pan and heat. Test to be sure the oil is hot enough by adding one piece of okra. If it sizzles, add the floured okra in batches. Leave enough room in the pan to turn the okra without layering it. Brown lightly on both sides. Resist the temptation to turn the okra too soon. If you stir too much, the corn meal will fall to the bottom of the pan and burn. Remove when browned and crisp on both sides and place on paper towels. If necessary, drain out the oil and wipe the bottom of the pan clean. Pour the drained oil back into the pan and repeat with the second batch. Season with salt and pepper.
Nathalie Dupree is the author of 14 cookbooks, including the James Beard award-winning “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached through Nathaliedupree.com.