Redfern restaurant Bush celebrates native Australian ingredients. But among dishes championing Illawarra plum, pepperberry and wattleseed, you’ll also find introduced species like deer, rabbit and boar.
“You could say it’s native food proliferation and invasive food obliteration,” says owner Grant Lawn. “We use invasive food like rabbits and boar as a resource that’s there, and also negatively affecting the bush, so we want to eliminate it. It’s also delicious.”
Lawn’s toastie recipe here leans on a ragu of pork which you can easily find in supermarkets or at the butcher, though his personal preference is to use wild boar : an introduced species that’s culled to reduce numbers, but chefs like Lawn would much rather see them on the plate, where their dark, lean and rich meat is perfect for slow-cooked dishes like a ragu. Sourcing boar is tricky though, so Lawn recommends using pork shoulder at home.
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The ragu recipe is straightforward enough, but Lawn has a couple of tips for getting a real depth of flavour. “The main thing is cutting the meat up in advance, salting it [and] putting it on a rack in the fridge uncovered so you’re kind of salt-curing.”
Then, it’s all about taking your time, particularly when browning the meat. “What you’re doing is trying to develop flavour, so getting a really good crust on two sides of the pieces. Once it’s down [on the pan], don’t turn it till it’s coloured properly, don’t play around with it.”
The final ragu tip is textural. Once it’s cooked and cooled (it should take about five hours), you’ll want to gently bring it to a smoother texture. “You could use a spoon or a fork, and you’re kind of pulling the meat. You’re breaking down the pieces of [pork] and bringing the sauce and the meat together, creating a nice, homogeneous mixture,” Lawn says.
Your first instinct might be to serve the ragu with pasta or in a pie, but the mix of meat, passata and aromatics is matched well with crusty white sourdough in a toastie.
It doesn’t need all that much, either: good bread, flavourful cheese and that slow-cooked ragu make a sum greater than its parts. The cheese that Lawn uses isn’t a prerequisite, but it’s worth finding.
“Scamorza is smoked mozzarella,” he says. “You can really use any cheese you want that’s available to you, but I think the smoked mozzarella is really nice with it and it has a really nice melty quality – it’s really stretchy.”
To put it all together, all you need to do is assemble and fry in a well-oiled pan, putting a little pressure on the sandwich as it cooks. “You’re just doing what a sandwich press would do – you’re pressing it down and bringing it all together,” Lawn says. “And then you’re flipping it. You can open it as well and see if the cheese has melted. There’s nothing worse than getting a toastie and there’s still cold cheese in the middle.” Once the cheese is melted, serve with a little chilli oil drizzled over the top.
Grant Lawn’s pork ragu, smoked mozzarella, chilli oil toastie
Serves: 30+ for the ragu; multiple sandwiches depending on how much bread and cheese you have
Prep time: 30 mins (and 24-hour curing)
Cooking time: 5 hours*
2-3kg pork or wild boar shoulder
Clarified butter, as needed
500ml dry white wine
½ bunch celery
½ head garlic
Olive oil, as needed
Salt, to taste
5 bay leaves
Black pepper, to taste
Toastie (per each)
2 slices of Abbott’s Bakery sourdough white
Pork or wild boar ragu
Scamorza (smoked mozzarella) or regular mozzarella
Cooking fat of choice
To start the ragu, cut the pork shoulder up into golf ball-sized pieces. Pat dry with paper towel, then salt and place on rack with container underneath. Store in fridge for up to 24 hours. Drying the meat will help form a good crust.
In a thick-bottomed pot, Dutch oven or casserole pot, use clarified butter or any other high-heat fat to brown the meat (be careful not to crowd the pan; cook in batches if necessary).
Set cooked meat aside, deglaze the pan with wine, then pour over the pork.
Finely dice the carrots, onions, celery and garlic into small pieces to make a soffritto. Add soffritto to the pot with olive oil, salt it and cook until translucent.
Add pork back in and top with water (until a few inches above the mix in the pot). Cook on low, skimming off any fat that rises to the top.
After an hour (making sure you’ve skimmed the mix well), add passata and bay leaves to the pot. Cook for 4 to 5 hrs, tasting to check the flavour is good and meat is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When the mix is cool enough, shred the meat into the sauce and remove bay leaves (using gloved hands is the most efficient way). You now have a delicious, simple and authentic ragu.
To make a single toastie, spoon and spread a generous amount of ragu on one slice of Abbott’s Bakery sourdough white. Top with smoked mozzarella or equivalent, then cover with second slice of sourdough.
Using your preferred fat, cook in pan, pressing down on the toastie with a spatula to bring the toastie together. Cook until there’s good colour on the bread and cheese is melted.
Finish with a drizzle of chilli oil.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Abbott’s Bakery.