The One Vegetable Chef Leah Chase Used To Elevate Any Dish

Leah Chase was known as the "Queen of Creole Cuisine" for a good reason. The New Orleans native worked as an executive chef at Dooky Chase Restaurant for over 50 years, cooking up dishes like flavorful shrimp stew and gumbo. The eatery also serves classic cajun fare like jambalaya, chicken creole, and stewed okra. The latter is classified as a fruit but is often eaten as a vegetable and has a sweet and earthy flavor that works well in soups and stews.

However, okra can be an acquired taste and definitely needs to be cooked well. For best results, you'll want to purchase the fruit when it's in season during the summer months. It's also best to use a cooking method that works to get rid of the slimy texture like soaking it in vinegar before using it in your next meal. Chase told First We Feast that her father grew the tube-like fruit, so they had plenty to use in different recipes.

Okra adds a sweet flavor and works as a thickening agent

The award-winning chef said okra is delicious with crowder peas or in a dish with lamb and garlic. "What a flavor it gives—[and] something that gives a thickness," she explained. Okra pods contain seeds and a jelly-like substance that makes them a great thickening or binding ingredient in recipes like stews. However, you have to be careful how long you cook it because it can become slippery and unappetizing. To help prevent this, give it a quick saute without any oil or butter.

Chase also divulged that she added the fruit to her beef brisket that she also stuffed with crawfish. "I put the whole okra around it," she said. "That okra is what makes it different. That whole okra will do so much for it, it really does." If this has left you wanting to incorporate it into your next meal, try making our incredible-tasting shrimp and okra gumbo recipe that features creole seasoning and hot pepper sauce.