From SC Chef Ambassador Erica McCier and Forx Farm
“My grandfather was big on teaching us how to live off the land. He pretty much knew how to grow everything,” reflects 2023 South Carolina Chef Ambassador Erica McCier. “Not only did our family eat good, the entire neighborhood ate good.”
Born and raised in Abbeville, McCier taught middle school art for ten years before developing kidney disease.
“I went through this life-changing experience that, at the time, felt like it completely stopped my life,” explains McCier.
Sitting at dialysis and watching cooking shows, McCier realized that “man, I could do that.” What started as a hobby quickly turned into cooking for dinner parties and catering events, all while going to culinary school and raising three children, a testament to her indomitable spirit.
Since opening Indigenous Underground in 2021, McCier, who describes her cuisine as Afro-indigenous, has been redefining the culinary scene in Abbeville with dishes that seamlessly blend Southern and global flavors.
“I’m Native American on my grandfather’s side, and I’m African on my grandmother’s side. I take all those ingredients that my ancestors prepared, and I give them a modern twist—the little kitchen with big flavor of indigenous underground.”
Since becoming a South Carolina Chef Ambassador, McCier was introduced to local farmers she hadn’t known were there.
“It’s really about all of us coming together to help each other out,” she says. “My goal is to open up that platform for farmers to be recognized. We’re using their products, and they’re getting more exposure and more customers.”
“If you grow up in Holland you grow up with cheese,” says Ron Lubsen, owner of Forx Farm Creamery.
After immigrating to the United States in 1980 with his wife Tammy, the couple decided to pursue a dream of making artisan gouda cheese. Located in Anderson, Forx Farm Creamery produces seven flavors of artisan gouda, as well as Leyden, parmesan and gruyere, all from raw milk. Each cheese is handmade in small batches using authentic recipes.
“I use Hickory Hill Milk because of its quality. The better milk you use, the better cheese you make,” says Lubsen. “One of the things about cheesemaking is you meet a lot of nice people, and we just enjoy it.”
Located in Edgefield, Hickory Hill Milk is non-homogenized and low-temp pasteurized, which means all the beneficial elements of the milk remain intact, something that sets them apart from most of the competition.
“We take care of these cows, and they take care of us,” says Daniel Dorn of Hickory Hill Milk.
Hickory Hill cows are pasture-raised, and they have their own 30,000-square-foot barn equipped with 200 free stalls and two robotic milking machines.
“The barn is what’s considered a hybrid guided flow. The smart gates sort the cows so you don’t have too much traffic back up at the robots,” Dorn explains. “Cows have a personality just like people do, and they want to be on their own schedule. For us to be able to supply them with that is huge.”
“I am a huge pasta lover—any type of pasta—and my specialty is creating a fusion of cultures, so that’s where the corn and peppers come in, those things that I grew up with that my grandfather grew. I chose to use smoked gouda for its rich, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Really, why would you want to use any other cheese?”
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup freshly grated smoked gouda
2 tablespoons minced tarragon, parsley or fresh oregano
¼ cup heavy cream
Nutmeg, salt and black pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Place the filling in a piping bag and refrigerate.
Note: If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a Ziplock bag.
300 grams flour, about 2 heaping cups
3 eggs, lightly beaten
On a clean work surface, make a nest with the flour. Add the remaining ingredients to the center and use a fork to gently break up the eggs. Try to keep the flour walls intact as best as you can as you slowly incorporate the flour to the egg mixture.
Note: If the dough still seems too dry, sprinkle your fingers with water and continue kneading to incorporate it into the dough. If the dough becomes too sticky, dust more flour onto your work surface.
When the dough comes together, shape it into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Once the dough has hydrated and the filling is ready, cut the dough into five pieces. Keep all but the piece you are working on wrapped in plastic so it doesn't dry out.
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup of diced poblano or jalapeno peppers (Optional: cubanelle or pimento)
½ cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh corn
1 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Microgreens for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add enough salt to make the water taste salty. Boil the agnolotti until they float and remove from water.
To a saucepan add butter, diced peppers and corn. Sautee for approximately 2 minutes. Add heavy cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Once the sauce begins to simmer, add in your cooked agnolotti and toss until lightly coated.
Plate and garnish with microgreens.