If you know us by now, you know that we don’t cater events often. Just the occasional Buddhist-gay wedding or Bavarian arm wrestling contest.
But it was too hard to resist the e-mail request we got six months ago asking if we were game to do the food for a Southern themed “swanky hoe-down” on a private hill in East LA this summer. So we said yes. And now the vows are finally bearing down upon us and we’re gearing up for the big shindig. We decided straight outta the gate that we wanted to serve something decorative on the tables that would tie the menu together. Something pickley, tart, and refreshing. Something that screams Down South. We chose okra.
This weekend we hit the farms market. If you pay heed to what’s fresh in produce, you know that okra is starting to flood the market quicker than meth in a trailer park in summer. Alex walked up to the Korean vendors we typically get cheap staples like bok choy from and furiously haggled: We bought 10 pounds of the stuff and lugged it home for a go at preservation. Like the fry dredge we used in our recent Po’Boy recipe, we lifted this pickled okra from a coupla ’90s cookbook dudes called the Lee Brothers. We can’t praise them enough (pickled watermelon rinds!). Thank you bros. Here come ten pound, brined wedding bouquets!
Stay tuned for full wedding menu and the ‘morning after’ debrief…
(Makes a Peck)
1.5 lbs. Okra
1 quart plus 1 1/2 cups filtered water
3 tsp. kosher salt
3-4 dried chiles
4 sprigs fresh dill
4 cloves garlic
4 cups distilled white vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. black peppercorns
2 quart, wide mouth Bell jars w/ rims and lids
2 large stockpots
1. Start with the brine: fill a large mixing bowl with 1 quart water and 1 tsp. kosher salt, stir to dissolve. Add okra and let sit covered for 2 hours. Trim the okra’s woody stems.
2. Sterilize your jars while you wait; fill the stockpot two-thirds full with water. Place on high heat until you reach a boil. Gently drop the jars into the water and let “cook” for 15 minutes. Then remove and place upside down on a bread rack to cool (a clean dish rack works too).
3. After 2 hours, drain and rinse the okra pods, pat ‘em dry with a clean towel. Stuff them creatively into the clean jars and add garlic cloves, dill and dried chiles as you go.
4. In the second stockpot, combine your vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, peppercorns and remaining 2 tsp. of salt and bring to a boil on high heat. Let bubble for 4 minutes before turning off and using.
5. Pour the hot vinegar brine over the okra, leaving barely a centimeter room at the top, and immediately close lid. Store upside down and wait at least one week before breaking open.
Beverage: Avery’s 17th: a Dry Hopped Black Lager
Soundtrack: Pixies “Palace of the Brine”
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