A month or so ago I was travelling around the country with the president of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association who was out here from America, scoping Australia as a destination for a future conference.
Now President Maralyn, as you’d well imagine, has travelled all over the world eating at some of the swankest restaurants the planet has to offer. She’s been wined and dined more than royalty and in fact, in food and wine circles, she’s as close to royalty as you can get in America.
We ate a 12 course meal at the Royal Mail in Dunkeld, (don’t even contemplate it unless your stomach is at least 100 times bigger than your eyes), noshed with Annie Smithers in Kyneton, slapped it up at The Good Table in Castlemaine and chomped and sipped our way through most of the restaurants and vineyards in Tasmania. After two weeks of heavy duty fine dining, I thought she’d appreciate some home cooked fare and a few quiet nights in. So we ended up in Maldon where I hosted Maralyn and her husband Norm at our miner’s cottage on the outskirts of town for a few nights.
But now I had a bit of a problem. What the hell do you cook for someone who’s eaten everything? What new experience could I possibly find for her to get her professional teeth into?
Everywhere we went on our food and wine sojourn, which was all in the name of professional development of course, the focus from all the chefs we met up with was on regionality and seasonality. I felt I had to follow suit.
So, with a bit of head scratching and a quick trip to town, I had a solution. I figured that Maralyn had had enough of architecturally designed food and skilfully crafted flavour combinations which was just as well as I’m not that gifted when it comes to creating works of art on a plate. And that’s what led me to creating this recipe. It’s simple, satisfying, quick, and uniquely Central Victorian. Perfect.
Central Victoria is the home of Bull-Boar sausages but frankly, I find them overpowering and sometimes a bit grisly. They can be the thuggish big brother of the sausage family and bash up everything else on the grill. But as a flavour pack, they’re in a league of their own – boisterous, complex and in your face. They just need a little training to knock the ADHD out of them.
This is one of the simplest recipes but has a distinct Central Victorian twist on a few traditions and ticks all the boxes of regionality.
All you’ll need is:
A big fat onion
A tin of diced tomatoes
A packet of your favourite pasta (curly pasta holds the sauce best)
A splash of olive oil
And it’s as easy as this:
Chop the onion reasonably fine but not too fine – this is a rustic dish. Fry it gently ‘till it softens a little in the oil. Split the skins of the Bull Boars and squeeze the meet into the frying onions and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook for a few minutes until the meat starts to brown. Add the tin of tomatoes and cook for another 10 – 15 minutes or so, fairly gently.
Cook your pasta and add the bull-boar sauce. Serve it up with some herbs from the garden.
It doesn’t get tastier or easier than that.
And what did President Maralyn say? “Can I have the recipe please?”
“Sure. But have you got Bull-Boars?
Footnote: Bull-Boar sausages can be found in butchers all over Central Victoria. Their heritage dates right back to the Gold Rush and the influx of Swiss-Italian immigrants who flocked here to try their hand at mining gold. Most were unsuccessful in their pursuit of quick wealth and turned their hands to what they did best – making great wine and smallgoods. Nearly every town in the goldfields and Central Victoria claims to be the home of Bull-Boars. My pick – Top Meats in Mostyn Street Castlemaine – but don’t ask them for their recipe – that’s carefully guarded.
– Kevin Moloney