Thursday, August 27, 2015

Quick-Pickled Okra Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Comfort Food for Food 'N Flix: August: Osage County

The Westons of Osage County, Oklahoma get my vote for the family I'd least like to have dinner with, or actually to spend any time with at all. Luckily, for our August Food 'N Flix pick, August: Osage County, we only had to watch this unpleasant and quite dysfunctional clan come together and not be a part of their intense family drama. I will say that as much as I love Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, the trailers for this movie when it came out made me avoid it because of how abrasive and annoying their characters seemed. So I was glad that our host Debra of Eliot's Eats picked it for this month's Food 'N Flix film because it pushed me to watch it. And, the timing was perfect because it was running on cable all month. Although I watched it at the beginning of the month, life has been insane lately and I am sliding in right under the wire as usual with my entry.

If you aren't familiar with the film, you can read Debra's announcement post here for details. My one sentence summary is that a family gathers when their missing patriarch turns up dead, they fight a lot, and plenty of emotions and secrets come out. Based on a stage play by Oklahoma playwright Tracy Letts, it's a somewhat dark film with some very tough and dramatic subject matter, a few (darkly) humorous moments, and plenty of cringe worthy scenes--especially when Meryl Streep (as matriarch and mother from hell, Violet Weston) starts spewing her opinions and her rage at her family. The acting is excellent and the cast top-notch (Streep, Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliet Lewis, Chris Cooper, Abigial Breslin, and Ewan McGregor). I am glad I saw it but it won't be a 'watch again' movie for me.

Although not a foodie film, there is a good amount of of food and drink shown or mentioned--casseroles at the funeral dinner, biscuits and gravy, catfish and cornbread, apple pie, and plenty of alcohol--just to name a few. For my film-inspired dish, I decided to take my inspiration from the food of Oklahoma and I also wanted to make something to feed the youngest Weston, Jean (played by Abigail Breslin). Jean doesn't eat meat and says it's because when you eat it--you are "ingesting an animal's fear"--something that gets her hassled at the funeral dinner table. 

When I looked up the foods of Oklahoma, I found that in 1988, Oklahoma designated an official state meal that consisted of "fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas." I knew I wanted to use okra but I wanted to do a quick pickle rather than fry it. Then I thought that if I were Jean and I had to eat a meal with that family, I would want some serious comfort food. Few things say comfort better than a grilled cheese and I decided it would be a fun touch to slide pickled okra in the middle of two cheeses and sandwich it all between two slices of heavily-buttered sourdough bread.

Quick-Pickled Okra
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1 Quart)

enough okra to fill a quart-sized jar (about a 12 or so)
4 Tbsp kosher salt
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup water 1 Tbsp sugar
two garlic cloves
3-4 slices thinly-sliced lemon
1 red jalapeno peeper, seeded and sliced
1 Tbsp pickling spices
1 pinch red pepper flakes
Wash the okra and slice in half lengthwise. Place okra in a colander, rinse, drain, and toss with 3 tablespoons of the salt. Let the salted okra drain in sink for 30 minutes. 

Rinse the okra in cold water to remove the salt and any slime. Put the remaining tablespoon of salt, water, vinegar, sugar, pickling spice, and red pepper flakes into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  

Place the garlic, lemon, and jalapeno slices, in the bottom of a sterilized quart jar. Place the okra in the jar, standing them up vertically, alternating the stems up and down. Pour the brine mixture into the jar. 

Allow the jar to cool to room temperature. Place the lid on the jar and refrigerate for at least 5-6 hours before using. Can be stored kept refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Sandwich: For my Quick-Pickled Okra Grilled Cheese, I used a combination of American cheese and smoked Gouda. I patted the pickled okra dry with paper towels and layered it in the middle of the cheese. Toasted to crispy, cheesy perfection, I served a few okra pickles alongside it. 

Notes/Results: This was one yummy sandwich with the melty cheese, the slight smokiness of the smoked Gouda, and the tart and vinegary okra pickles. A little different and a nice change from a plain grilled cheese. I will definitely make it again.  

Debra will be rounding up the entries shortly on her blog so check out the film-inspired dishes that everyone made. If you missed out this round and like food, films, and foodie films, join us for September, when Food 'N Flix founder, Heather of girlichef is hosting. We'll be celebrating 5 Years of this fun event and you can choose which of our many previously viewed films to make a dish from.


  1. these pickles do sound easy, I will give them a try, if okra is still in season when I get back to Japan.

  2. Just nominated you for The Creative Blogger Award. (P.S. I've been lurking on your blog for YEARS!)

    Here's more on how to play:

  3. This is a great two-fer for FnF. So glad you got the post up. We just bought a pint of okra at the FM this morning. Think it is getting pickled (and then getting made into a sandwich).

  4. I've never seen the film, but now I want to. I'm intrigued with the okra pickles. They say fermented food is really good for you and I've been getting okra from my CSA and really didn't feel like cooking it.. This is perfect. thanks for an interesting idea

  5. I've always heard about okra, but never tried it. Not something you can get easily where I am. You've got me wanting to try this now.

  6. Jean would definitely appreciate this meal. I need to try pickled okra soon...and then make this sammich!

  7. I'm always so hesitant about okra, but these look delicious. I might have to put my picky aside.

  8. Very creative Debra. Your sandwich sounds delicious.

  9. I love okra, pickles, and grilled cheese - this sounds awesome! Poor Jean, I felt pretty bad for her.


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