Sunday, September 15, 2013

Green Tomato, Okra & Bacon Stew

Green tomato okra & bacon stew
This "throw cooking" recipe is a great way to enjoy green tomatoes without having to fry them. It's the result of improvisation one evening when I was not in the mood for cooking but had a bounty of vegetables from an earlier trip to the farmer's market.

If you usually steer away from okra, rest assured that it is not slimy in this recipe. Perhaps the acidity from the green tomatoes counteracts okra's notorious sliminess?

To be perfectly honest, I did not measure the fresh thyme when making this stew -- but the other ingredients were measured and/or weighed, and accurately documented. Feel free to adjust or substitute herbs, including dried for fresh and vice versa, to suit your tastes and what's on hand.

I cooked this late-summer stew in a large enamel-clad Dutch oven, but it should also work in a heavy soup pot. I don't recommend using "bare" cast iron because of the acidity of the tomatoes.

Finally, if you are a fan of hot and spicy food, feel free to add a chopped jalapeno or other hot chili along with the bell pepper. You can also spice up my green tomato okra & bacon stew with a few splashes of hot sauce at the table, and for that I would recommend any good Louisiana hot sauce.

3 thick slices of bacon
1 bay leaf
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup white wine, preferably a dry crisp one (I used sauvignon blanc)
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1 lb green tomatoes, chopped
Fresh thyme: Approx. 1/2 tsp (just the leaves from several large sprigs)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 lb fresh okra, trimmed and cut into 1/2" thick slices
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

green tomato okra stew
Fry the bacon until crisp in a large, heavy pot or an enamel-clad Dutch oven. Transfer bacon onto paper towels to blot excess grease and set aside; reserve the rendered bacon fat in the pot. Add the bay leaf, onion & garlic to the pot and cook until lightly caramelized (I recommend medium-low heat to keep the bacon fat from smoking). Pour in the wine and stir to deglaze the pot, gently scraping up any bits of onion or bacon that might remain on the bottom. Cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until wine has reduced a little bit. Add remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and let cook 20 minutes at a low simmer. Uncover, stir and check for doneness: the green tomatoes should be very tender. If  not yet done, cover and continue to simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. When everything is tender to your liking, crumble in the bacon and stir, taste for balance, and add more salt or herbs if desired. Serve hot in bowls, either "as is" for a low-carb stew or over cooked rice (quinoa, couscous and other cooked grains can also be used as a base).

Zestfully yours,

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