Many chefs take one of two stands with okra: They either deep-fry it or soak the pods in a brine for a Southern pickle. But when Andrew Wiseheart's sous chef hinted that okra pairs well with sherry, Wiseheart chose an entirely different direction. At his ranch-inspired Texas restaurant Contigo Austin in Texas, Wiseheart sautés sliced okra and tosses it with walnuts, tomatoes and a tangy sherry-based sauce. The complex sauce, which develops heat from jalapeños and a mellow richness from a finishing swirl of butter, gives the Southern staple a fresh look for fall.
Recipe adapted from Andrew Wisehart, Contigo Austin, Austin, TX
Cook Time: 10 minutes
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 large pieces okra, each sliced crosswise into 4 to 5 pieces
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ cup whole raw walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. In a medium skillet set over medium heat, warm the olive oil until it begins to smoke.
2. Add the okra and sauté until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, add the shallots and jalapeño and cook for 1 minute.
3. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the walnuts and tomatoes and toss to incorporate. Add the sherry vinegar and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid is reduced and the pan is almost dry, about 4 to 6 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Stir to incorporate and serve immediately.