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Annie Gailliard’s Okra Gumbo


Annie Gailliard shared this recipe with my Aunt Lynda Firetag Denberg, who then told it to me. It was a spoken recipe until now. Lynda changed the recipe slightly by using a mix of fresh and frozen vegetables and adding a dollop of ketchup. This recipe calls for lima beans, though not all recipes for okra gumbo do. I have given the recipe a Jewish touch, with a dollop of schmaltz and olive oil, served with a Jewish grain dish called kasha varnishkes rather than white rice.

The okra gets very slimy when you cut it. Sautéing the okra over high heat or blanching it before sautéing can lessen the slime. Or you can soak the okra in vinegar for half an hour before cutting. Rinse and pat dry. Annie used vegetable oil to sauté the onions and okra. I add schmaltz to give it extra flavor with a Jewish touch!


1. Cover the bottom of a large heavy skillet with olive oil and a tablespoon of schmaltz. Cook on the stove-top on medium temperature. Caramelize the onions and garlic together. Put aside.
2. Sauté the chopped okra on medium temperature to cook off the slime. Cook until tender. Add the corn and lima beans to the okra. Stir until well mixed and cook until tender. Add the tomatoes and the ketchup and cook on low until the vegetables are tender. Salt and pepper to taste.


Excerpted from KUGELS & COLLARDS: STORIES OF FOOD, FAMILY, AND TRADITION IN JEWISH SOUTH CAROLINA by Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey.  © 2023 Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey.  Used by permission of the University of South Carolina Press.  uscpress.com/Kugels-and-Collards. Photography by Emily Brown. Click to purchase on Amazon.