The farmer’s at my local farmer’s market grow some of the best okra. There have been times when they were so tender I could actually eat them raw. However, when they are a little tougher, one of the best ways to cook them is to smother them with some onions, garlic, and bell pepper, with bacon and tomatoes. Fresh diced tomatoes, or Rotel tomatoes are fine. This is also good with frozen okra.
If you have an abundance of okra in your kitchen, this is a really good way to preserve your harvest. It freezes well, and is ready to use to add to make a quick Chicken and Okra Gumbo, as some of the long cooking time has already been done. Sometimes I add a little extra water or chicken stock to prevent freezer burn, as I usually end up using this in a gumbo pot. While my family loves okra in the gumbo pot, they are not fans of plain old smothered okra. Go figure.
Quantities are flexible. Most important is the cooking time, as you want all the sliminess to cook at. You may have to add water as needed as this is best done in a slow braise.
As far as the tomatoes go, use the Rotel tomatoes of your choice. Don’t like the heat? Just use regular diced tomatoes. I have used the fire-roasted tomatoes and they were really good, too.
3 to 4 cups okra, diced
1 medium onion, minced
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup bell pepper, minced
1 medium tomato, diced (optional)
1 14-ounce can Rotel tomatoes, mild
2 to 3 slices bacon, diced small
1 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 cups water or chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a good, heavy pan. Use only 1 tablespoon oil if using bacon. If not using bacon, use 2 to 3 tablespoons oil.
Let bacon, onions, garlic, and bell pepper cook on medium-low heat till translucent. Tomato, too, if you are using it. I was trying to clear up the vegetale bin.
Add okra and stir continuously. The okra will start to “rope”, and get slimy. With some slow cooking, the sliminess will go away.
Add water or stock, cover, and let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Salt and pepper to taste; serve or freeze in containers to add to your gumbo pot.