Not long ago I had the opportunity to meet Charleston’s native son’s — the Lee Brothers — as they swept through town on a national book tour. Imparting their inspiration and shared experience as products of Charleston’s rich culinary history, the Lee Brothers folded history and food into a rich narrative that gave meaning to the dishes I’ve known and loved.
Rifling through the pages of The Lee Brothers Charleston Kitchen, my attention drifted from one recipe to the next as if I was surveying (and planning my plate) the spread laid forth on my Grandmother’s kitchen table. One particular dish, though, caught my eye and compelled me to give it a try.
Using the Lee Brothers’ recipe as inspiration, I coerced a surprisingly simple twist on a Southern staple from my cast iron skillet.
- 1 pound fresh spineless okra, halved
- 2 ears fresh white corn, cut from cob
- 1 1/2 cups whole cherry tomatoes
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeno, sliced thinly
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Olive oil
- Coarse salt and fresh-cracked pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Slice stems off the okra and cut lengthwise. Arrange cut okra on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes.
While okra is in the oven, heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add approximately one tablespoon olive oil and corn kernels. Pan roast the kernels until slightly charred, though keep in mind the kernels have a tendency to pop.
As the corn begins to char, add the chopped onion, whole cherry tomatoes and minced garlic — reducing the heat to medium. Stir in the apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Let cook for about 5 minutes.
Remove the okra from the oven, keeping the oven on. Add the roasted okra and thinly sliced jalapeno to the cast iron skillet, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Place the skillet back into the 400-degree oven, cooking for another 15 minutes or until tomato skins have burst and okra has begun to char. Serve.