8 thick slices hickory-smoked bacon
1 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4cup)
1 pound fresh okra, trimmed
5 ripe tomatoes, peeled and quartered (see NOTE), or 24 ounces canned whole peeled tomatoes, quartered, with their juices
1 small hot chili pepper, finely chopped, or powdered cayenne pepper to taste
Dry white wine or homemade or no-salt-added chicken stock
Chopped fresh herbs of your choice, for garnish
Line a plate with a couple layers of paper towels. Cook the bacon in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat until it is uniformly crisp. Transfer the bacon to the paper towels to drain.
Add the onion to the bacon grease in the skillet and cook until the onion starts to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the okra and cook until it begins to glisten with moisture. Add the tomatoes and pepper, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered, adjusting the heat so that the liquid is barely bubbling around the edges, until the okra and tomatoes are stewed evenly, stirring occasionally and adding wine or stock to the pan if necessary to keep the mixture soupy.
Serve by itself or over white rice that has been cooked in chicken stock. Garnish with the chopped herb of your choice and the crumbled bacon.
NOTE: To peel tomatoes, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Have ready a bowl of ice water. Cut an “X” in the bottom of each tomato and remove the stem. Place in the boiling water for 10 or 15 seconds, then use a slotted spoon to quickly transfer to the ice water. The skin should slip off.
NUTRITION Per serving (based on 8): 210 calories, 6 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 330 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar
Adapted from “Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking: Recipes and Ruminations from Charleston & the Carolina Coastal Plain” Twentieth Anniversary Edition, by John Martin Taylor (University of North Carolina Press, 2012).