A lot of love goes into the bacon at Bertie's Butcher before it ends up on eggy brioche French toast, flanked by caramelised banana sliced and doused in maple syrup. It's cut thick from free-range Berkshire pigs in Wangaratta, where Greta Valley works with a local nutritionist to develop its feed. Bertie's then has it smoked by one of the original founders of Istra Smallgoods. Chefs buy it by the loin, rashers regularly sell out in store and the cafe out the back, Little Bertie, puts it all over its breakfast menu. "It's naturally sweet bacon, so it makes sense to pour maple syrup all over it," says co-owner Darren Moncrieff of the French-toast dish.
Moncrieff is the third operator to run the butcher, but the only one to limit its stock to organic and free-range meats. "Ten years ago it was hard to find a free-range butcher in Melbourne. Our business is based around free-range meats, the paddock-to-plate element and transparency. The integrity is in the product. That's the big thing," says Moncrieff. When making this recipe at home, Moncrieff insists you get what you pay for with bacon, so try to buy the unpackaged stuff and always make sure it's Australian.
Feeds up to 4
⅓ cup brown sugar
80ml coconut, olive or peanut oil
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pinch of chilli flakes
12 small bacon rashers
2 tablespoons butter
8 slices of brioche
3 bananas, cut into 1cm slices
toasted walnuts, to serve
maple syrup, to serve
Combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the oil with the allspice and chilli flakes in a medium bowl. Add the bacon and toss to evenly coat.
Beat the eggs and cream in a medium bowl until combined.
Heat two large frying pans over medium heat. Fry the bacon in one pan for 1–2 minutes on each side until cooked to your liking. Melt the butter in the other pan.
Dip the brioche slices in the egg mix, coating both sides well, and fry in the butter for about 1 minute on each side until golden brown and toasted – you will need to do this in batches or have a third pan on the stove.
Mix the remaining oil and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the banana and toss to evenly coat.
Cook the banana in a large frying pan over medium heat for 1½–2 minutes, turning frequently to caramelise evenly and prevent the banana from becoming mushy.
Place two slices of toast on each plate and top with the banana and bacon. Scatter over some walnuts, drizzle with the maple syrup and serve.
This is an extract from The Broadsheet Melbourne Cookbook, which contains 80 recipes from the city’s best restaurants, cafes and bars.