pea pods on a table

Chef Barry's Pork Belly with Petits Pois à la Française

Chef Barry Tonkinson, ICE's VP of Culinary Operations, explains the logic behind the bane of the culinary world: shelling peas.

Fair warning: Chef Barry Tonkinson's recipe for pork belly with petits pois à la Française, or French-style peas, calls for the peas to be shelled before cooking. While peeling the skins off peas is not very exciting work, it's not a bad skill to master. 

Shelling peas is a tedious, repetitive process. It's a common task, and though speed and technique can be improved through practice, there's no shortcut to the final result. The peas must be blanched and then submerged in ice water, after which you can begin removing the skin from each individual pea.

"There is no quick way to do this other than to pierce each pea and remove the bitter shell, one by one." - Chef Barry Tonkinson

As menial as it sounds, there is a reason why so many recipes, like Chef Barry's, still call for shelled peas. Removing the bitter skin of the pea results in more digestible, sweeter peas. Shelling peas is by no means glamorous work, but it makes a difference in the flavor and texture of the peas. Sometimes it's the little (or petit) details that really elevate a dish. 

Check out the recipe below to learn more about trying out this dish in your own kitchen.

plate with pork belly and petits pois a la Francaise


Chef Barry's Pork Belly with Petits Pois à la Française

Yields 4 portions


Petits Pois à la Française

  • 1 handful onions, baby blanched
  • 1 cup petits pois, fresh
  • 75 grams pancetta
  • 200 milliliters chicken stock, hot
  • 1 baby gem lettuce, picked leaves
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Onion Parsley Purée

  • 4 Vidalia onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 bunches parsley
  • Xanthan gum
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Onion Cream

  • 4 Vidalia onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 200 milliliters heavy cream
  • 300 grams butter
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Pork Belly

  • 340 grams pork belly
  • 1 each rosemary sprig
  • Onion cream*
  • Onion parsley puree* 
  • Petits pois à la Française*
  • Pea shoots


Petits Pois à la Française

  1. Blanch onions and shock in ice water.
  2. Cut the root end off and remove the skin of the onions, cut in half and sear on the plancha until charred.
  3. Blanch peas and shock in ice water.
  4. Peel the skin from the peas, set aside.
  5. Add pancetta to a pan on low to medium heat. Render the fat and cook the lardons until crisp.
  6. Add chicken stock and reduce by half.
  7. Add lardons back to the pan along with peas, lettuce leaves and onions and cook briefly.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 Onion Parsley Purée

  1. Place onions and a pinch of salt in a vacuum bag.
  2. Cook at 84°C for 2 hours.
  3. Strain, cool and place onions in a VitaPrep.
  4. Blend, add parsley and blend until smooth.
  5. Add xanthan gum to bind the ingredients.
  6. Pass through a tamis.
  7. Season with salt and pepper and reserve in a squeeze bottle.

 Onion Cream

  1. Place onions in a vacuum bag and seal.
  2. Cook in a water bath at 84°C for two hours.
  3. Place into a VitaPrep and blend on full until smooth.
  4. Place into a saucepan and add heavy cream.
  5. Add cold butter and emulsify.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
  7. Froth with an immersion blender until foaming.

Pork Belly & Assembly

  1. Place pork in a vacuum bag with a sprig of rosemary and seal completely.
  2. Place into a water bath at 62°C for 40 hours.
  3. Remove from the water bath and press into a hotel pan. Chill until below 4°C.
  4. Remove from the bag and cut into 115 gram-sized squares.
  5. Sear on the plancha, skin-side down, until crisp.
  6. Place in oven at 150°C until warm throughout.
  7. Remove from the oven and slice into 3 pieces.
  8. Place onion parsley purée on the plate and spread in a circular shape around the plate.
  9. Add pork belly, place petits pois à la Française next to the pork.
  10. Top with onion cream and pea shoots.

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