Country Fried Grouper Cheeks: Sea Island Red Peas, Ham Hock, Charred Pearl Onions

Adapted by
Yield: 4 servings


Sea Island Red Peas
ham or chicken stock
3 cups dried Sea Island red peas, soaked, drained
mirepoix (carrots, onion, and celery), finely chopped
Grouper Cheeks
1 pound grouper cheeks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
½ tablespoon garlic powder
½ tablespoon onion powder
½ tablespoon celery seed
lard or salt
black pepper
To Assemble and Serve
Charred white pearl vegetable oil
meat pulled from 1 ham hock
mustard greens, stems and coarse ribs removed, finely chopped
Charred white pearl onion
baby mustard greens
black pepper


For the Sea Island Red Peas:
In heavy saucepan bring stock to boil. Season with salt, stir in peas and mirepoix, and return to simmer. Reduce heat, cover loosely, and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender, about 1 hour. Remove from heat, uncover, let cool completely in liquid. Cover and refrigerate.  

For the Grouper Cheeks:
Clean and trim grouper cheeks, season with salt and pepper, and place in a bowl. Add buttermilk to submerge cheeks. Combine remaining ingredients in separate bowl for dredging. Briefly hold cheeks over buttermilk, letting excess drip off, and dredge in seasoned flour, shaking off excess.

To Assemble and Serve:
Drain cooked Sea Island Red Peas. In a frying pan heat lard and panfry dredged Grouper Cheeks until golden brown and crisp; drain on rack. In separate pan, heat lard and add peas, meat from hock, and mustard greens, and sauté until greens wilt. Add pearl onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until heated through. Spoon pea mixture onto serving plate and top with cheeks. Garnish with baby mustard greens.