Farm Fresh Pick of the Week: Okra

Friday, August 10, 2012 14:12

 A Surprising and Savory Gumbo Recipe

By Casey Pukl

When Executive Chef Kristen Burman found out we’d be featuring Okra as this week’s Farm Fresh Pick of the Week, her instant reaction was to create the most delicious and least slimy dish she could make. Okra is characteristically cooked one of two ways; fried or stewed. In the stewed version, the seeds of the plants become quite slimy as the mucilage surrounding the seeds breaks down.  Others prefer to cook the okra pods whole to avoid this situation. In this week’s dish, Burman has struck a great textural balance that is sure to keep people on both sides of the Okra fence satisfied.

Shrimp & Crayfish Gumbo
Okra Beignets

To start this incredibly savory summer gumbo, Burman starts with what the Cajuns refer to as the, “Holy Trinity”. While a classic French mirepoix contains onions, carrots, and celery, this version substitutes the carrots for peppers. The mirepoix is then cooked with garlic, okra, rock shrimp, crayfish tails, and Andouille sausage.

One the proteins are cooked, the mixture is covered with equal parts red wine, white wine, and brandy. Heat and reduce until the mixture is halved, then add stock and continue cooking. If you’re in a region where you can get fresh crayfish, Burman recommends using the shells to make a stock as she has here in the Anthology kitchen. (I tried to tell you she was hardcore!) If you can’t find fresh crayfish, using a store bought stock will work just fine.

While the mixture is cooking, use another smaller pot to make a dark roux. The roux is used to thicken the gumbo. Use equal parts flour and butter, and cook the combination down to a thick mixture. It will look a bit like wet mud, but of course it will yield a delicious gumbo!

Add the roux to the gumbo when you’ve achieved the flavor you’re looking for. To garnish the gumbo, dip slices of okra in beignet batter, and fry them in 350 degree oil until they are golden brown. They add an incredible texture to the top that is hard to resist!

Recommended Wine Pairing

Zocker, Gruner Veltliner, Edna Valley, California, 2010
White Pepper, Ripe Melon, Fruit Cocktail

This wine is a spectacular pairing for this rich gumbo. This white has a great acidity and a fantastic texture. There is a great earthiness to it that is complemented by a slight mineral finish. Upon first open, there are aromas of white pepper. The flavors then unfold to reveal hints of ripe melon and fruit cocktail. Meyer lemon is also detectable. The finish is smooth and lovely. This wine not only pairs well with seafood, but it’s also a great option for harder pairings like artichokes.

Be sure to come on in and give this great new pairing a try! It’s only here for a week, so don’t wait! I personally think it’ll pair perfectly with the sounds of Ottmar Liebert!