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Tuesday Recipe: Okra Pancakes

My family prepared much of the food for my nuptial hoedown. My dad roasted a pig. My aunt Apryl baked some Coca-Cola cakes. And my dear old mom, in addition to making three magnificent banana puddings, prepared innumerable fruits and vegetables for the grill.

We also got some outside help, in the form of Ms. Williams at Southern Hands catering. She produced some wonderful cobblers—her specialty—and sides. Upon our first meeting, I asked Ms. Williams what kind of dishes she made, and she replied, “Whatever you want.” When I pulled this recipe for okra pancakes from my wedding planner, she considered it for a moment before she said, “I can make that.”

I haven’t talked with Ms. Williams since the picnic, but, when I do, I am going to suggest in the strongest possible terms that she add this savory fritter to her regular repertoire. I found these pancakes to be quite wonderful, and they got at least as many raves as the transcendent deep-fried Mounds bars my cousin Sarah and her boyfriend, JD, prepared.

This recipe comes, in a slightly amended form, from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, a cookbook which I recommend whole-heartedly not only for the deliciousness contained within, but also because the friendship from which it was born is so unusual and lovely.

½ cup stone-ground white cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup water
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 cups thinly sliced okra
Oil for frying

Put the cornmeal, flour, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and baking powder in a mixing bowl, and stir well with a whisk to blend. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and water, then stir into the dry ingredients, mixing only until moistened. Sprinkle the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper over the onion and sliced okra, and toss lightly. Fold the vegetables into the batter.

Pour 1 inch of oil into a skillet and heat to 340ºF. Spoon the okra batter by heaping tablespoons into the hot oil; do not overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden brown on one side, then carefully turn and continue frying until both sides are browned. Remove from the skillet and drain well on a draining rack or crumpled paper towels.

MAKES APPROXIMATELY SIXTEEN 2-INCH PANCAKES, ENOUGH TO SERVE 4 AS A SUPPER OR 6–8 AS A SIDE DISH

August 3, 2004 | Permalink

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