Tom Colicchio is generally the toughest judge to please on Top Chef. He'll rip apart your risotto, criticize the raw onions, and complain about your dessert. And there's one ingredient he notoriously (rather surprisingly) hates—okra. "It's just slimy," he said in an interview with The New York Times way back in 2007.
Well, Top Chef alum John Tesar may have an okra recipe that even Tom would love. The vegetables are dry roasted in the oven until browned and caramelized, eliminating any moisture that makes them slimy. They're also cooked with bacon in—um—bacon grease, which adds to their deliciousness. Tomatoes, chives, and vinegar finish off this super-simple dish.
The recipe is one of John's favorites from his new cookbook, Knife. Give it a try below.
Roasted Okra, Tomato, & Bacon
This fantastic side dish is credited to my mother-in-law, who made it to accompany a load of prime ribs I supplied one Christmas dinner. This side stole the show, though, so I in turn stole the side. Okra has the bad rap of being sticky or gooey, but we’re going to avoid that by dry roasting it in the oven until it caramelizes and is golden brown around the edges. The sliminess comes from moisture in the vegetable, so by eliminating the water, we keep it nice and dry.
- 5 slices applewood-smoked bacon
- 24–30 okra pods
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 10 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon imported sherry vinegar, like La Posada
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Place the bacon in a skillet over medium heat and cook until it’s crisp but not burned. Remove the bacon from the pan and coarsely chop it. Turn off the heat and reserve the bacon grease in the pan.
3. Trim the tops off the okra, halve the pods lengthwise, and place on a baking sheet. Season the okra with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ⅛ teaspoon of the pepper and roast for 15 minutes, or until the okra is golden brown around the edges.
4. Add the bacon and okra to the pan with the bacon grease and turn the heat to medium. Toss together and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring so the bacon doesn’t burn. Add the tomatoes, chives, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and remaining ⅛ teaspoon pepper, and toss until the tomatoes are warmed through.
5. Stir in the sherry vinegar and serve.
Excerpted from the book KNIFE by John Tesar and Jordan Mackay. Copyright © 2017 by John Tesar. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. Photography by Kevin Marple.
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