Deconstructing Grandpa’s Okra Accompaniment: At the Table | Entertainment/Life

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Steve Engelbrecht learned engine mechanics by studying tool catalogs and he learned to experiment with food by browsing his grandfather’s Penzeys Spice catalogs.

“Spices are like an alphabet — you find the ones you like and start putting words together,” Engelbrecht said.

Using these “words” and flavor combinations, Engelbrecht enjoys experimenting when cooking for family and friends, often putting together foods from opposite ends of the world’s cuisine or reinventing local norms.

Vexed by recipe restrictions, his approach usually starts with a sharp kitchen knife and a big “what if”.

Guacamole with kimchi? Deviled egg burgers with pickled okra? Okra pizza? These are three of Engelbrecht’s recent creations. While I’m not sold on the mix of kimchi and guacamole, photographs of his Deviled Egg Burger made my mouth water.






Steve Engelbrecht is sautéing shrimp in his kitchen.




When Engelbrecht and I cooked together, he remembered a more traditional mixture of okra, corn and tomato – a dish his grandfather had taught him, as well as how to cook squirrel, making cream of squash soup and involuntarily enjoying the deliciousness of cow’s tongue – to name a few things he learned while living with his grandfather in Natchitoches. Intended to be served as a side dish, Engelbrecht deconstructed his grandfather’s recipe and created a meal by tweaking the flavors, adding shrimp and serving it over brown rice.

As Engelbrecht cooked, I watched him pay attention to each main ingredient – ​​not following the typical method of combining all the vegetables for a long simmer, but rather preparing them separately. He only heated all the vegetables together briefly, adding the prawns to each bowl at the table to allow the flavors to stand out as they worked together.

“That’s how I show my love, by taking time with my ingredients,” he said with a smile as he, his wife and their children discussed the meals they had enjoyed together.

Since fresh fall tomatoes were not yet available, he taught me how to roast store bought tomatoes with a little olive oil, rice vinegar and Worcestershire sauce to intensify the flavors while bringing a shine to the somewhat bland tomatoes. Their roasted sweetness along with the prawns round out the flavor of the dish, giving it the heft of a meal.







AtTable11.13.22 OkraCornTomShrimp plated.jpg

Okra, Corn and Tomatoes with Shrimps




Engelbrecht keeps a copy of Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking” handy to understand the science involved in the flavors he likes to put on the plate. Do you have a question about okra mucilage? The anatomy of a tomato? McGee’s book explains how to manipulate both to achieve desired flavors and textures.

We enjoyed our bowls of delicious okra on the back patio, chatting about meals past and meals to come – as foodies are apt to do. Engelbrecht detailed how he once turned the okra, corn, tomato, shrimp quartet into a pizza with red sauce and smoked gouda. As I savored the flavors in my mouth, I could follow her imagination about it and jot down the recipe.

Okra, Corn and Tomatoes with Shrimps

Makes 6 servings. The recipe is from Steven Engelbrecht.

3 large tomatoes

4 ears of corn

1-2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1-2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for sautéing the shrimp

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 pounds okra, sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

3 bay leaves

Salt

Cayenne pepper

White pepper

2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails can be left for presentation)

Cajun or Creole spice blend

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Lightly score the tomatoes, then blanch them in boiling water until the skin begins to come off. Remove to cool.

3. Blanch the corn in the same boiling water for two minutes. Remove to cool, then cut the kernels off the cob.

4. Peel, seed and cut the tomatoes into large chunks.

5. Spread tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with rice vinegar, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. Bake for 35 minutes. This step can be skipped if using flavor-rich tomatoes such as heirloom or locally grown tomatoes.

6. Preheat a deep skillet over high heat. Add olive oil to coat the pan, okra, onion, bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook until the okra no longer produces its characteristic stringy slime.

7. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then add the corn and tomatoes to the okra. Stir and cover, allowing the dish to warm over low heat.

8. Saute the prawns in a skillet lightly coated with olive oil over high heat until cooked through.

9. Serve okra, corn and tomatoes over white or brown rice with sautéed shrimp on top. Season with your favorite spice blend. Pairs well with a Louisiana-brewed pilsner.

Pizza with okra, corn, tomatoes and shrimps

Makes 6 servings. The recipe is from Steven Engelbrecht.

3 medium tomatoes

2-3 ears of corn

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for sautéing the prawns

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 pound sliced ​​okra

Salt

Cayenne pepper

White pepper

1 pound medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined

15 ounces pizza dough prepared at room temperature

¾ cup tomato-based pizza sauce

1½ cups lightly packed cheese (aged provolone or smoked gouda)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Lightly score the tomatoes, then blanch them in boiling water until the skin begins to come off. Remove to cool.

3. Blanch the corn in the same boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove to cool, then cut the kernels off the cob.

4. Peel, seed and cut the tomatoes into large chunks.

5. Spread tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with rice vinegar, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. Bake for 35 minutes. This step can be skipped if using flavor-rich tomatoes such as heirloom or locally grown tomatoes. (Remove seeds and watery pulp from fresh tomatoes.)

6. Turn the oven on to 500 F.

7. Preheat a deep skillet over high heat. Add olive oil to coat the pan, sear the okra until golden brown. Add salt and pepper to taste.

8. Saute the prawns in a skillet lightly coated with olive oil over high heat until cooked through.

9. Divide the prepared dough into three balls. Work one ball of dough at a time while the others remain covered with a clean kitchen towel.

10. Roll out dough to about ⅛ inch thick.

11. Spread the following ingredients over the dough, leaving the edges uncovered: ¼ cup pizza sauce, ⅓ of the sautéed okra, ⅓ of the corn, ⅓ of the tomatoes, ⅓ of the shrimp and a pinch of ½ cup of the cheese.

12. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients to make three thin crust pizzas.

13. Bake on a pizza stone for about 8 minutes.

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