That song is still playing in my head. (Note: It probably doesn’t help that I’ve downloaded it to iTunes and can play it at will.) My South Carolina longing continues and with it, my desire for Southern food.
What is it about summer that makes us (ok, maybe just me) think of all of those wonderful Southern treats? Maybe it is the warm weather, the sunshine, the annual mourning for the months-long summer breaks I no longer enjoy… To satisfy my cravings, I’ve been researching various fried chicken recipes, whipped up a big pan of cornbread for the hubs to take to work, made the aforementioned key lime pound cake, and now, I think I’ve stumbled upon a recipe that closely mirrors the amazing hominy stew with tomatoes and okra I enjoyed at my sister’s Hilton Head wedding.
Can I tell you how giddy I was for this reception? Sure, I was quite excited for my sister and my new brother-in-law. But then I saw the menu. It read like my own personal lyrics to “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music: Fried Green Tomatoes, Shrimp Fritters, Country Ham on Sweet Potato Biscuits, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp. Oh, these are a few of my favorite things! On to the second verse: She-Crab Soup, Pulled Pork, Southern Fried Chicken, Baby Back Ribs, Shrimp Jambalaya, Hominy Stew with Tomatoes and Okra, Roasted Potato Salad, Cornbread… drooling yet? This was like Thanksgiving, only warmer. Thank God my bridesmaid dress was A-Line because I had every intention of filling my plate to the brim. And I did. And then I didn’t feel so bad.
We were able to wrangle the recipe for the She-Crab soup from the caterer, but weren’t so successful with the stew. I went on the hunt. While I had a general idea of what I was after, many recipes I stumbled across had too much going on. There were gumbos galore with seafood or sausage additions, all of which were a far cry from the vegetarian dish I had enjoyed. Eventually, I settled on a recipe that seemed to fit the bill, albeit with a few modifications (really though, what recipe is not modified in my house?!). One of the major changes I made was to shift this from a vegetarian recipe to one that has a wee bit o’ bacon. If you are bacon averse, you could certainly start with a few tablespoons of canola oil instead.
Stew is a relative term here. This ain’t your Midwestern, hearty, stick to your bones, chase away the winter chill stew. The original dish was served as a side, no bowl required. While mine was thick enough to stand on its own on a plate, I opted to serve this as a main dish over a bowl of rice. Either way, it is delicious. There are a lot of textures with the dumpling-like hominy, the soft tomatoes and the okra. How to describe okra…? If you’ve never had okra, this is a good introduction as the “silken” textures (often described as slime – I’m here to tell you the truth) combine with the liquid from the tomatoes and aren’t as pronounced as in other recipes. When looking for recipes, I stumbled across the following saying:
“When I was a kid, I ate so much okra I couldn’t keep my socks up.”
That’s all I have to say about that.
recipe: adapted from Threadgill’s Home Cooking
1/4 lb. bacon, diced
1 c. diced yellow onion
2 24-oz. cans whole tomatoes, undrained
1/2 lb. frozen cut okra
2 14 oz. cans white hominy
1/2 c. water
2 Tbsp. hot sauce
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste
Saute bacon in a large stockpot over medium heat. Once bacon is nearly crisp, add onions and saute until onions have softened, about 4 minutes. Using hands, crush tomatoes into large pieces. Reserve juice. Add tomatoes, tomato juice, okra, hominy and water to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stew, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes or until okra is tender. Add hot sauce, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Serve as a side or over hot cooked rice.
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