Seasoned with bacon and red pepper, sauteed okra is a classic side dish that also works beautifully when served at room temperature for a picnic. For the best flavor and texture, cook okra quickly over high heat.
Wash okra under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Trim stem ends.
Heat a cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add bacon, and cook, turning occasionally, until golden. Drain bacon on paper towels, and crumble into pieces.
Discard all but 3 tablespoons of bacon fat; return pan to heat. When fat is hot but not smoking, add okra. Cook, turning occasionally, until okra is bright green and slightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and pepper flakes, if desired. Serve immediately.