Okra + Bacon + Rice = Okra Pilau

“Okra!” kiddo shouted with joy, as she sat down to the dining room table.

During the month of February, I will be reflecting on and celebrating Black History Month by cooking from Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking by Toni Tipton-Martin.

okra pilau cookingin a frying pan

My copy of Tipton-Martin’s cookbook arrived today to replace the borrowed copy from the library. Little makes me happier than a new cookbook. Crisp pages unsullied by anyone else’s kitchen splatters. A blank slate for cooking notes. I don’t normally write in books, but cookbook notes help me remember whether I’ve made and liked a recipe and what tweaks might be helpful.

I made a lot of notes tonight about the okra pilau.

Like so much food, pilau (aka pilaf) is a nomad, kin to dishes like paella and biryani from other cultures. You have to love a wikipedia entry that starts with the Abbasid Caliphate. Rice, broth, spices, and vegetables or meat.

I recognized right away that there wasn’t enough bacon. How could three strips be enough bacon?! Next time, I’ll double the bacon to six and add it back only as a heavy garnish at the end so it stays crispy.

Then there’s the okra. I had thought of okra as American in origin, but it was likely brought to the U.S. from West Africa during the slave trade. The okra didn’t stand up well, whether because it was frozen (it is February) or because it was cooked longer with the brown rice I subbed for white. Either way, next time I’ll be holding the okra back until just before the end of cooking so it stays bright and green.

That means the rice will get cooked in bacon fat, onions and garlic, and a handful of herbs. Thyme. You can’t go wrong with thyme.

Here’s the pic of our meal of leftover BBQ pork, okra pilau, and maque choux. All rounded out with mr. uglyducklingbakery’s chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream.

a plate with the okra pilau and other curries

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  1. I am going to have to try this one. I love okra. If cooking in a recipe (as opposed to adding it for filler to a stew or adding to black eyed peas) I always use fresh. It definitely cooks faster than you’d think even fresh. I have an okra curry recipe I love and it comes together amazingly fast.

    1. Hi Ericka. Thanks! We love okra here in the house, especially kiddo. I use fresh when it’s available, but I don’t think frozen is a horrible option if there is no alternative.

      If you try this dish, please let me know how you like it.

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