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V Sautéed Okra

Adapted from the cookbook Vegetables by James Peterson

The basic recipe, award-winning author James Peterson says, is to “…slice it and stir it in hot fat until it softens slightly….Fifty years ago cookbooks recommended cooking okra for 2 hours while more contemporary recipes suggest anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.” This recipe recommends about 20 minutes of cooking.

1 pound okra
2 tablespoons bacon fat, peanut oil, or olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1 thin slice proscuitto, cut into 1/8 by 1” strips (optional)
2 jalapeno chiles seeded and minced (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash the okra just before you are ready to cook. Cut off and discard both ends and slice into ¼”-thick rounds. Heat the fat or oil in a wide skillet or wok over medium heat and add the okra. Cook over medium to high heat—just hot enough to keep the okra sizzling, but not enough to brown it right away or cause the oil to smoke. Sir every 5 minutes so it cooks evenly. After 15 minutes, stir in the garlic and proscuitto or the chiles (or all 3 if you want) and cook for 5 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Makes about 4 side-dish servings.