The cookbook helping Aussie farmers from plate to paddock

Slow-braised pulled pork with home-made smoky barbecue sauce.
Slow-braised pulled pork with home-made smoky barbecue sauce. Photo: Cath Muscat

When food editor Jody Vassallo floated the idea of a cookbook to help drought-affected farmers with photographer Luisa Brimble, Vassallo said that if Jamie Oliver agreed to provide a recipe, the project might have a chance. An instant "yes" from Mr Oliver set the wheels in motion and within a week of putting the word out among her food media network the book was beginning to take shape.

Vassallo has enlisted some of country's best food photographers, stylists, designers, home economists, food editors and writers to contribute to the book – all of whom donated their work for free. The result is Farmer: Recipes and Stories from the Land, featuring 80 home-style recipes from family kitchens – from Jamie Oliver's chilli con carne meatballs and Maggie Beer's golden roast chicken, to silverside from two travelling cattle drovers. Aside from handing over their favourite recipes, farmers across Australia have also shared their tales of joy, heartache, resilience and community.

Profits from the cookbook go to the Country Women's Association of Australia to help households affected by drought, flood and fire in regional communities.

Farmer: Recipes and Stories from the Land.
Farmer: Recipes and Stories from the Land. Photo: Supplied

Pulled pork with smoky barbecue sauce

Steve Jackson: "My wife and I live on a small farm overlooking the Bega Valley. It's very hard work and at times it's a heartbreaking struggle. The reward is food on a table that gives life, not just nourishment; it fosters togetherness and gratitude, and brings love to the fore even in the toughest of times."

INGREDIENTS

  • 3kg boned pork shoulder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 800ml cider or apple juice
  • crusty white rolls and aioli-dressed coleslaw to serve

Smoky barbecue sauce

  • 2 oranges
  • 1 large onion, peeled
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 red chillies
  • 7g (¼ cup) fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 35g (⅓ cup) smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 185g (1 cup) brown sugar
  • 100ml apple juice
  • 200ml tomato sauce
  • 100ml worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup (60ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard

METHOD

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  1. Preheat the oven to 150C (130C fan-forced). Rub the pork all over with the olive oil. Combine the paprika, cumin and brown sugar and season generously with salt and cracked black pepper. Place the pork in a baking dish, skin-side up. Rub all over with the spice mixture. Pour the cider or apple juice into the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 4–8 hours, until falling apart.
  2. Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce by putting the oranges in a saucepan of water. Simmer for 1 hour, until soft. Transfer the oranges to a food processor and blitz to a pulp. Remove and set aside.
  3. Blitz the onion, garlic, red chillies, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, paprika and cumin in a food processor.
  4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the herb and spice mixture for 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the orange pulp, apple juice, tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar and mustard. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  5. Remove the skin from the pork and shred the meat with two forks, incorporating the pan juices. Stir in 250–500ml (1–2 cups) of the barbecue sauce. Serve the pork on crusty white rolls with aioli-dressed coleslaw.

Serves 6–8

Tip: The barbecue sauce recipe makes about 4 cups. Any remaining sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Vegetable curry recipe by Anna Jewell.
Photo from Farmer: Recipes and Stories from the Land, published by Jody Vassallo, edited by Lynne Testoni. 

Photo: Cath Muscat

Vegetable curry

A conduit between SunRice and rice growers throughout the NSW southern Riverina, Anna Jewell's favourite part of rice-farming is being out in the field checking the crops, seeing how they're growing, watching them change and checking the water levels during summer growing months.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp madras curry paste
  • 250ml (1 cup) vegetable stock
  • 400ml light coconut cream
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 1kg pumpkin, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 1 small cauliflower (750g), trimmed, cut into florets
  • 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 300g green beans, trimmed, halved
  • 400g can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
  • 220g (1 cup) SunRice medium grain rice, cooked according to packet directions to serve

Raita

  • 260g (1 cup) Greek-style plain yoghurt
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves, plus extra coriander leaves to serve

METHOD

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.
  2. Stir in the coconut cream, capsicum and pumpkin. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, until the pumpkin is just tender. Add the cauliflower and tomato. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the beans and chickpeas and cook for a further 5 minutes, until the beans are just tender.
  3. To make the raita, combine the yoghurt and cucumber with the chopped coriander in a small bowl.
  4. To serve, garnish the curry with the extra coriander and serve with the rice and yoghurt mixture.

Serves 6

Bacon, cheddar and herb scones with quick cultured butter

Warren Mendes: When I think of country cooking I think of generous portions, fresh ingredients and great baking. Scones are simple and timeless, and this version celebrates all that comes from the land. Scones and tea is a warm welcoming gift I've enjoyed at many farms in Australia. These savoury scones can even be enjoyed with a cold beer – how Aussie is that?

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g streaky bacon, chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 525g (3½ cups) self-raising flour
  • 125g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 250ml (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 100g (1 cup) finely grated parmesan
  • 250g (2½ cups) grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 egg, whisked

Quick cultured butter

  • 400g creme fraiche

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan-forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the bacon in a cold frypan over medium heat. When the fat starts to render, cook, stirring often, for 4–5 minutes, until crisp. Add the herbs, garlic and some pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
  3. Add the flour and butter to a food processor. Process until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in the buttermilk, parmesan, 2 cups of the cheddar and the bacon mixture, and season with salt.
  4. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly to form a soft dough. Roll the dough out to a 3.5cm thick round and use a 6cm floured cutter to cut it into rounds. Place the scones close together on the baking tray. Re-roll any leftover dough and cut it into rounds. Brush the scones with the egg and scatter the remaining cheddar over the top. Bake the scones for 25 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the cultured butter, beat the creme fraiche with an electric mixer until it turns to butter. Season with salt. Serve with the scones.

Makes 12

"Cow poo" slice

Wendy Sheehan writes: "We have a family property in outback Queensland, which is home to 2000 wool-growing merinos, 600 cows and us. This slice is a cattlework staple. We were involved in the NIRS (Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy) trial, where we collected dung samples from the cattle herd every month, dried the collected dung in the oven and mailed it down to Brisbane to be analysed for cattle health and nutrition. My niece was here at the time and commented that the slice looked rather similar to the oven-dried results.

INGREDIENTS

  • 140g (1 ½ cups) rolled oats
  • 55g (1 ½ cups) rice bubbles
  • 130g (1 ½ cups) desiccated coconut
  • 6 Weet-Bix, crushed
  • 165g (1 cup) dried apricots, chopped
  • 90g (½ cup) sultanas
  • 205g (1 ¼ cups) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 180ml (¾ cup) honey
  • 200g (¾ cup) peanut butter
  • 180g butter, chopped

Chocolate topping

  • 200g dark cooking chocolate, melted
  • 30g butter

METHOD

  1. Grease and line a 4cm deep, 22cm x 32cm slab pan or medium roasting pan with baking paper, allowing the long edges to extend 2cm.
  2. Combine oats, rice bubbles, coconut, Weet-Bix and fruit in a large bowl.
  3. Stir brown sugar, honey, peanut butter and butter in saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and simmer for 5 mins, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens slightly. Stir honey mix into dry ingredients until well combined. Press evenly into the prepared tin. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until set.
  4. Combine melted chocolate with butter, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over slice. Refrigerate until set. Lift slice from pan. Cut into squares.

Makes 24

This is an edited extract from Farmer: Recipes and Stories from the Land, published by Jody Vassallo. Available from bookstores and online, RRP $30 (plus shipping).