A Little Southern Lovin'

Fall is almost here (hello cute clothes), and that means that college football is here! And that means my South Carolina Gamecocks are taking the field. I loveeee football season, especially when my team is supposed to be awesome! So in the spirit of cheering for the Gamecocks, I've got to represent with some good ole' southern cookin'. There is truly some delicious food that has come from the South, like fried chicken, collard greens, corn bread, Chick-fil-A.... but I've gotta tip my hat to the South on this one. Okra and tomatoes over rice. So, so yummy and simple. 

One little tip for you guys. If you've never worked with okra before (fresh or frozen) don't be scared when you realize that it feels like slime. It's not rotten if its slimy and gooey, that's just how okra feels. You're dish won't be a slime bucket, I promise. The starch will make it thick and hearty.

Okra and Cherry Tomatoes over Brown Rice

2 cups fresh okra (trimmed and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces)
1.5-2 lb whole fresh cherry tomatoes
4 slices thick-cut bacon (diced into small pieces)
2 small onions (diced)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 cups brown rice (follow box directions to cook, use chicken broth)

Heat a large saute pan with high sides over medium heat, cook bacon pieces until fat starts to render (about 7 minutes). Add the onion and garlic to the bacon and cook for about 5 minutes. Add whole tomatoes, wine, chicken broth, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Bring to a slow simmer and cook for 15 minutes. The tomatoes should start to fall apart and turn into a sauce. 

Make sure to wash and trim up your okra before using. Add the okra to the pan and simmer for 15-20 more minutes. The okra should be soft, but still have a crunch. The "slime" from the okra will make the sauce thick and almost creamy.

Make sure to cook your rice (whether using instant or not) so it is ready when your sauce is complete. I like to cook my rice with chicken broth to give the dish a little extra flavor. I bet Paul Deen would tell you to add a "little" butter to the rice, y'all. So go ahead and put a pat in there if you're feeling so inclined. It won't kill ya.

Serve lots of okra and tomatoes over the rice. I believe I will be making this dish many times this fall season while my Cocks take over the SEC. It's actually a really good dish to serve at football parties if you get sick of making chili! Just double or triple the recipe. Make sure to use cherry tomatoes, because they add a layer of sweetness to the dish that regular or canned tomatoes don't have. Look for a few more "football party" recipes to come!

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