No, it’s not a dessert; instead, it’s more like a small casserole that combines two great vegetables in a thickened cream sauce. Now, if you haven’t heard of such a thing, it might be that you haven’t eaten too many Southern meals. Fortunately, that can change, and, once you try this one, you’ll be looking for more Southern treats to try!
We first saw this recipe in that bible of Southern eating, The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, oh, at least a few months ago, before the current okra season came upon us. Being the good little squirrellers that we are, we knew we’d be trying this one out come later in the summer, so we dutifully filed it away in the Scratchin’ central library. When corn and okra came into season, we shuffled through the stacks, blew away some dust and cobwebs, and there it was, right in the folder labelled, “recipes,” ready for scratchin’. We’ve modified it just a bit to make it richer, but divided it in half so you wouldn’t eat too much (always choose quality over quantity). So let’s get at it, y’all.
Makes 4 small (6 oz) casseroles
This depends on fresh ingredients, so, if you’re thinking of using frozen corn (or even worse, cfac — corn from a can), you might be disappointed, but at least we warned you. Heavy cream: we wanted this to be a rich dish, so in it went. The original recipe called for half-and-half. I’m sure it will work either way. For the egg, if you haven’t switched to pastured eggs from your farmers’ market, we’d strongly suggest it. Here are the benefits: supporting your neighbors, getting the freshest eggs possible, better taste and texture, and shopping where you can buy other fresh, usually local, foods.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Use about 1/2 Tbs of the butter to grease four 8-ounce ramekins or a 1-quart baking dish. We used 4 little ramekins because we thought they’d look a bit nicer.
Roast okra. In a dry skillet (no oil) over medium heat, roast the okra slices in a single layer until they are just beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat to cool.
Layer okra. Once the okra is cool, layer it in your baking dish or dishes, dividing the okra evenly. We saw you sneak that extra piece of okra! We won’t tell.
Layer corn. Now, divide the corn kernels among the baking dishes, making a second layer.
Heat cream. In a small saucepan, stirring continuously, heat cream, remaining butter, salt, and sugar over medium heat until the butter melts and the cream begins to simmer. Remove from heat.
Whisk egg. In a medium bowl, whisk the single egg and mentally prepare yourself for the next step. Think of this as loosening up your whisking muscles.
Whisk in hot cream. The cream is still hot, the egg is whisked, and you need to combine them. If you just pour in the cream, the egg will cook, so start whisking with abandon and slowly pour the cream in a thin stream into the egg. Keep whisking as you pour. Feel those muscles burn! Whew! Good job!
Pour custard over corn and okra. Divide the egg and cream mixture among the four ramekins. It should come right up and just a bit over the corn and okra.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Usually we have our okra fried, or perhaps in Gumbo, but, thanks to the Lee Bros., we now have this recipe and the Pan-Roasted Okra, Corn, and Tomatoes to add to the mix. And, contrary to the common belief about okra, not a single one is the least bit slimy. Instead, all are great ways to show off fresh okra. This one is especially nice, since it’s a bit different from the standard okra recipes, rich and creamy, not spicy, and makes a great meal if the tomato season is over and you’re left with just corn and okra. Five stars, because when it comes to okra, those Lee Bros. sure know their pods!