This food memory comes from Chef Will Fincher, the Chef de Cuisine at The Obstinate Daughter, a new restaurant on Sullivan’s Island, SC.
My sister and I were home schooled. We had what I would call a Tom and Huck childhood. We went on adventures in the country, climbing trees, playing in cotton fields and shooting BB guns. My family have always been big readers, and there was one time in particular when we were very young that my mom read us a poem from the book ‘Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin.‘ It goes:
I eat my peas with honey, I’ve done it all my life, it makes the peas taste funny, but it keeps them on my knife.
Every time my mom made peas we would recite that poem. And from time to time I would break out the honey just for fun. I will always remember the taste of peas and honey together. Wanting to incorporate “honeyed peas” into a dish, I created a recipe: Spice rubbed pork with sweet corn risotto, queso fresco, and honeyed peas. In this dish, the sweet corn risotto is creamy and salty. The pork is spicy and perfectly tender with queso fresco adding a fresh tangy flavor and the honeyed peas (with a little chili flake) serve as the sauce and work to balance the salt and heat. Every time I eat peas I think of that wonderful time in my life when all you had to worry about was getting home before dark.
This dish requires a little preparation. Making the Queso Fresco takes time, you can always buy it but I like to make my own. I usually sous vide the pork but it can be roasted in the oven for a similar effect. To plate the dish, place a pool of the risotto on the bottom of the plate. Add the slices of pork, top with honeyed peas and sprinkle Queso Fresco on top.
- 1-1.5 lb. pork tenderloin (silver skin removed)
- 1 Tablespoon cayenne Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- To make spice rub, combine Cayenne, black pepper, coriander, ground fennel seed, sugar and salt together.
- Rub down pork and allow to sit while you preheat oven.
- Set oven to 400 degrees, allow to preheat.
- Place pork on a rack in the oven. Cook till internal temperature reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Allow to rest before slicing, this pork can be served at room temperature for this dish.
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1/2 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons white vinegar
- Bring milk and salt to a boil in a small sauce pot.
- Once the milk comes to a boil remove from heat.
- Slowly add in white vinegar. You will notice the milk immediately coagulate. If you it does not coagulate double the vinegar.
- Stir the milk and vinegar mixture till the mixture has coagulated completely (once no more cheese curds form).
- Strain the curd through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer.
- 2 cups green peas (frozen is fine)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flake
- kosher salt to taste
- 1/2 cup honey (local if possible)
- In a small sauce pan, saute shallot in olive oil.
- Cook till soft and translucent with chili flake.
- deglaze with white wine and reduce by half.
- add peas and warm through.
- add honey and season with salt.
- this will be served over the pork as the sauce. If the mixture is too thick add a little water.
Sweet Corn Risotto
- 2 cups Arborio Rice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup white onion (small dice)
- 1 Tablespoon garlic (minced)
- 1 cup sweet corn (off the cob)
- 1 quart water (you may need more)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Sweat onions and garlic in olive oil till soft.
- Add rice and and turn heat to medium.
- Stir frequently for about ten minutes till rice is completely covered in oil and is starting to cook.
- Add about 1/4 cup of water and continue to stir rice while it cook.
- You will continue adding water slowly and stirring the rice till it is about 1/2 cook (just a touch of crunch in the middle of the rice).
- Add corn and continue cooking rice
- Cook till rice is completely cooked, this is a slow process that takes a lot baby sitting but is well worth it.
- If you’re not planning on serving the Risotto immediately, make it a little looser with some water so it can be reheated.
The Obstinate Daughter was recently named one of the best new restaurants in the South by Conde Nast Traveler.
Not feeling so good about eating industrial pork? You don’t have to. Try heritage pork, traditional livestock breeds raised by farmers. According to the Sustainable Table, today’s industrial farms rely upon a few specialized types of livestock and crops and thousands of non-commercial animal breeds and crop varieties have disappeared. Within the past 15 years, 190 breeds of farm animals have gone extinct worldwide, and there are currently 1,500 others at risk of becoming extinct. This is no where more evident than in the much maligned pork industry where today 75% of pigs in the United States come from only 3 main breeds.