Reprinted with permission from Okra: A Savor the South® Cookbook (University of North Carolina Press, 2013).
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 cup fine cornmeal (not self-rising)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
coarse kosher salt and freshly
ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound okra, stem ends trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
cooking spray (Willis prefers organic canola cooking spray)
Place rimmed baking sheet in oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine cornmeal and cayenne pepper in shallow dish. Season heartily with salt and pepper.
Whisk together buttermilk and egg in large bowl. Add okra and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and set aside to marinate, about 3 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove okra from buttermilk and add it to cornmeal mixture. Dredge okra in cornmeal mixture. Remove baking sheet from oven and spray it with cooking spray. Place okra on heated pan and lightly coat it with additional cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring once. Stir and spray again. Cook an additional 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.