Saturday, May 28, 2011

Southern Favorite for Dinner

Creole Tomato
I have a little "salad" garden in my back yard.  Though I certainly won't be gathering on any grand scale given its diminutive size, still, I can hardly wait for the first tomato to show promise of ripening.  All the tomatoes sitting there soaking up sunshine are green as the leaves on the vine.  Believe me, it's hard to go out and see those little globes hanging there without imagining them on a platter of Fried Green Tomato's. Patience, I must summon patience.  

So to keep temptation at a minimum I thought a pot of Okra and Tomato Stew might assuage my wicked thoughts of sacrificing a green tomato to my cast iron frying pan.  I love tomatoes any way, anyhow.  Now granted the two stars of this pot are from freezer and can, but still so good.  And may I add when all things are freshly picked from your garden or local farmer's market it gets exponentially better.  Nothing like a stewed down pot of this colorful duo.  A Louisiana favorite.

Okra and Tomato Stew

Olive oil
3 pieces bacon (sliced into lardon)
1 small onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
Jalapeno pepper (diced)
3 or 4 cups okra (frozen or fresh)
1-1/2 cups tomatoes (canned or fresh)
Chicken stock
Black pepper

Into a pot add a splash of olive oil and toss in the bacon.  Cook until the bacon begins to brown only slightly.  Add the diced onion and cook until translucent. Add the minced garlic and diced Jalapeno pepper.  Cook a couple of minutes more to soften the Jalapeno.

I used cut frozen okra here, but if you use fresh, cut into bite sized pieces.  Plus, I used canned diced tomatoes, but if you have fresh tomatoes, chop them.

Add the okra to the pot and cook for several minutes; at least until it has softened and the liquid has cooked out.  Add the tomato's and stir well.  Splash in enough chicken stock (I used the boxed variety) to cover the veggies.  Salt sparingly; you'll want to adjust the salt at the end.
Stirrin' with my new spoon

Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes on medium/low heat stirring often.  The stew will thicken because of the nature of the okra.  The last few minutes of cooking add black pepper, a big pinch of sugar for balance and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Taste and adjust the salt to your liking. 

I served this delicious side dish with a light complementary filet of Salmon.

Getting the glaze on
Salmon Filet with Balsamic Glaze

Salmon filet
Olive oil
Black Pepper
Balsamic vinegar
Oyster sauce
Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

Into a hot skillet, add a very small amount of olive oil.  Add the filets, skin side down.  Reduce heat to prevent burning and cook the skin side until nice and crispy.  Turn and cook on the other side to desired doneness. 

I don't cook any fish to death, but you want it cooked, while still flaky and soft.  

Remove the salmon to a warm platter.  Into the same pan add a generous splash of balsamic vinegar and reduce to about half.  Add about 2 teaspoons oyster sauce and stir.  Drizzle in a bit of honey and mix.  Taste at this stage to find a pleasing balance.  Add salt, if needed.  I did not.  Lastly, add the parsley and place the filets back into the pan to glaze.  Serve immediately and spoon a bit of the glaze over each serving.


This may seem an odd combination, but I liked it very much.  A nice crisp glass of white wine and a little time to enjoy is all you need to add.

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