Thursday, June 4, 2009

Okra and the Welcome Wagon: Natural Male Contraceptives?

I had shown up to a gun fight armed with a swift kick in the groin or, more appropriately, I joined a tackle football game, and was the one on the bottom of the pile checking to see if my counterpart was really wearing his cup. This is the best way to describe the chili cook off I entered on the Friday before the Super Bowl. All around me were crock pots simmering with vennison, chorizo, beef, and prosciutto. When I laid my okra laden entrant down tasters stared at me like I had broken into my friends house, invited two lady friends, dead bolted the door, shed my fake eyelashes in the sink, and then played forbidden games on the astro-turf. I met each of their eyes and nodded as if to say, yes, I truly did enter simply to lose. What they didn't know is that I would gain a small amount of revenge during this unfair competition, after all okra contains trace amounts of gossypol, a chemical that has been tested as a male oral contraceptive. I may be on my way down, but so were they.

I hadn't eaten okra before I ventured south to Florida, five years ago. I was introduced to the wonderful plant and now I eat it at least once a month. This month I decided to try it a little differently. I'd eaten it in chili, African Stews, gumbo, and on nachos, but I had never fried it up. This week's recipe of the week:

Crispy Oven-Fried Welcome Wagon Okra
Printable Recipe

2 cups cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 large egg
1 lb. fresh okra or 1 16-oz. pkg. frozen okra, thawed

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Coat baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine cornmeal, salt, pepper and paprika in bowl.

3. Whisk egg in separate bowl. Dip okra in egg, then in cornmeal mixture. Work in batches to prevent clumping.

4. Spread okra on prepared pan. Roast 30 to 35 minutes, or until crisp and lightly browned, shaking pan occasionally. Remove from pan with slotted spoon, and serve hot.

Simple. Easy. Southern.

For my SAT takers out there, Gossypol is to okra as gospel is to ________. I'll go with The Welcome Wagon (sorry, it's only half the song).