For the past 15 years, Peter Ford has embraced Ballarat’s local produce via his eponymous catering company. This, combined with his broader work championing the region’s food bowl make Peter the perfect chef to interpret Ballarat as a dish.
“Lately there’s been a gentrification of Ballarat taking place and you can see that through this dish, which represents the communities appreciation for fine local produce. The bar has definitely been raised, with a certain element of people chasing finesse and not always looking to Melbourne for inspiration like they used to. Pork is being reared around the Ballarat district in numbers not seen in the past, from the Croaghs out at Mt Mercer, The Charles’ near Learmonth and further out, the Kumnick’s with their rare breed pigs. Spring Creek Organics is one of my go-to places for vegetables and there’s a terrific grove in Buninyong which is a repository of old English nuts.”
2kg pork belly skin removed and reserved
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp salt
Mix together salt and sugar, rub over pork belly.
Cover and let sit in fridge for about 6 hours.
Heat oven to 200 degrees, discard liquid from pork.
Lay the belly fat side up and roast for about an hour, basting along the way with the rendered fat.
Turn the oven down to 120 and cook for another hour and 15 minutes.
When cooked, put in a clean tray cover with baking paper and press with a pot, leave to set overnight.
When totally cool, cut into portion sizes ready to reheat in oven.
Scrape as much fat off the skin as possible.
Boil for about 2 hours in plenty of water.
Carefully remove the skin and lay on a rack to cool and set in the fridge overnight.
Next day scrape any remaining fat off to ensure the final cooking creates a crisp crackling.
Now stick the pieces in a dehydrator for a day on high or a low temperature oven until it is completely dry and snaps if bent.
Cook them up like a prawn cracker and sprinkle with salt flakes and 4 spice.
Dressing – picked thyme leaves, cider vinegar, grape seed oil
Roasted hazelnuts, salt & pepper
2 sticks rhubarb, trimmed
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup sugar
Dice two stalks of rhubarb into 5mm squares.
Make caramel with sugar and deglaze with balsamic vinegar, cool slightly then pour over rhubarb, set aside.
Pickled golden beetroot
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons coarse salt
Baby golden beetroots, very thinly sliced
Place the first four ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar and salt. Decant into a large bowl, cool for 5 minutes. When the mixture is still warm, add the beetroot. Allow to steep for 20 minutes. Drain and use.
Olive oil pudding
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks
40 gms sugar
20 gm cornflour
30 ml olive oil
Bring milk to the boil in saucepan.
In a bowl whisk yolks, sugar, salt and cornflour until smooth.
Pour a little hot milk into bowl and mix well, pour in remaining milk.
Return to pot and cook to a simmer whisking constantly, whisk in the olive oil.
Cool mixture and set aside.
1 cup beetroot juice
3 gm Agar agar
Pour juice into a pot, Sprinkle agar agar over juice and let soak for 5 minutes
Bring to boil in and use a stick blender to ensure agar totally dissolved in juice.
Pour into bowl and let chill and set.
Return mix to vitamix and blend till smooth
Place in squirty bottle or small piping bag and dot gel onto the plate.