So here’s my theory: If you’re going to have a fried chicken dinner, I think you need to serve a lot of really fresh vegetables to go with it so that the whole meal’s not super heavy and deep fried. Braised collards are traditional, of course, but I think what really makes the meal is a big dish of pickled okra. The vinegar is such a good counterpart to country gravy and mashed potatoes. Plus, everyone knows to make collard greens so they’re necessarily all that exciting, but I’m not sure the general public realizes how amazing pickled okra taste. If you like dill pickles, you will love these. They’re crisp and tangy (not slimy at all), and even though I could have canned them, I didn’t bother because my family and I polished them off in just a couple days. They were perfect as a side dish to a big southern dinner, but also delicious with cold beers, pimento cheese and crackers. This is a horrendous picture from my phone because I was more worried about serving a table full of people and then eating with my family before the food got cold than taking perfectly styled photographs, but just so you see where I’m going with this: It was so good!
My recipe for fried chicken is here, along with some prettier pictures. The biscuits are a recipe that I always use from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. They’re yeasted buttermilk biscuits and come out wonderfully fluffy. If you don’t have that cookbook you should almost definitely buy it – it’s a winner.
Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 1 lb. okra
- 2 c. apple cider vinegar
- 2 c. water
- 1/4 c. kosher salt
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. dill seed
- 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1 onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
- optional: a pinch of red pepper flakes
- optional, which I didn’t use because I couldn’t find: one or two fresh dill blossoms
Combine the apple cider vinegar, salt, water, garlic, dill seed, black peppercorns and sliced onion in a nonreactive pot and bring to a simmer. (If you want them spicy, this is also when you should add the red pepper flakes to your own heat preference). Simmer for 3-4 minutes. Arrange the okra in a nonreactive container (I used a glass dish but you could use jars too) and add the dill blossoms if you are using them. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the okra. It should cover them completely. Move the container to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 48 hours before serving. They should last in the fridge for about a month, but you’ll probably eat them much quicker than that.