Victoria lays claim to some of the best Cotoletta, not to mention bánh mì, in Australia, and a lot of that credit must go to the incredible pork used to create that unmistakeable flavour.
Meet farmer Judy Croagh from Western Plains Pork and the story behind what it takes to get this fantastic product from paddock to plate.
Q: Why did you become a farmer?
The love of the land, the space and freedom, the purpose and passion that farming provides. It is real!
Q: Did you grow up dreaming of having your own farm?
I didn’t really consider this as I grew up on small acreage with horses and cows all around me. Such a fantastic childhood.
Q: Is it a family affair?
Western Plains Pork is a company with shareholders, but it is a family affair in the fact that Tim and I are shareholders and both work in the company and we have done so right from the start.
We started from when there was nothing but open paddocks and no pigs!
Q: If you weren’t a farmer, what would you be?
Hmm that is difficult, but probably something to do with Customer Service.
I have been doing the marketing and sales at Western Plains Pork for quite some time, but it is really the Customer Service that I like to try and get right.
It’s not always achievable, but I try!
Q: What makes your product so special?
The outdoor environment and the care to try and get it right by all involved.
Q: What’s your farm doing to combat climate change?
We are working towards being carbon neutral, that is currently in progress.
Solar power, paddock rotation and a commercial arrangement where all the straw and manure are being used as fertiliser is also in place on our farm.
Q: On your farm, how are you using technology?
We’ve got automated paddock feeding, remote monitoring of water, CCTV, web-based software production systems, safety and hazard recording and automated on-farm feed milling.
Q: What’s your favourite recipe featuring your products?
OMG, there are too many to mention all my favourites, but Pork Cotoletta on the menu at Bellota restaurant in South Melbourne, and Sud Restaurant in Melbourne and sometimes at the European in Melbourne.
Also, Scott does a great Cotoletta and he is now at Aunty Jacks in Ballarat. It’s so fresh and delicious.
There’s also delicious rack trimming bites at The Shared Table in Buninyong.
I also can’t wait to try the sausage rolls at Tivoli Road Bakery in South Yarra. Their customers must enjoy them as they have still been very popular during COVID lockdowns.
The suckling and spit pigs are also delicious. Asado Restaurant does an amazing job cooking them over the coals.
I must not forget pulled pork made from the scotch or the shoulder. Burn City Smokers do a great job with this and it is so easy for anyone to make.
So many great recipes, but I simply put some shoulder or scotch in the slow cooker with a small amount of water and stock, some quince jam (homemade form the garden which is fertilised with pig manure and straw) and let it cook slowly overnight and then the next day.
It’s fantastic in a roll with some coleslaw. We do this for lunch sometimes for everyone who works on the farm.
Q: Tell us how to get our hands on your product?
We have an online platform now – Pork Farm to Plate. We sell fresh pork which can be delivered to your door along with Charcuterie products produced by Salt Kitchen Charcuterie which only use pork from our pigs.
We grow out pigs especially for them to a specific, consistent size. Mick Nunn does an amazing job producing a very delicious product. Right now, it is all about Christmas and ham on the bone!
The website has recipes and information to help with cooking the products and about the farm. We also respond to people’s requests as they might not be able to get something anywhere else. So, if it is not on the website, send us a message and we will respond. Suckling pigs, spit pigs, we can do as well.
With such long lockdowns it is time to get back to support the restaurants and we supply a few incredible restaurants throughout Melbourne and Victoria. Pork is such a versatile product that it is used in so many different ways, and in so many different dishes. We need to try them all!
We supply the restaurants/establishments above plus others. Mo Vida Aqui, Rosas Canteen, Supernormal, Bottega, Caterina’s Cucina e Bar, Bunyip Hotel, Frank and Connies, Pacos Tacos, Tacos Y Liquor, Grossi Florentino, Timboon Railway Distillery, Oscars Hotel, Stray Neighbour, The Recreation, Paradise Valley Hotel, L’Hotel Gitan, Bistro Gitan, The Flower Drum, True South, and many more, but I always feel bad if I haven’t mentioned them.
We also supply a few regional butchers.
John Harbour Quality Meat and Beno’s Meeting Place are two of them!