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Goldfields’ bull-boar sausage, Victoria
THE bull-boar is a beef and pork sausage produced by the Italian-speaking Swiss population of the Victorian goldfields since the 1850s. It is not known why so many Swiss-Italian immigrants chose to settle in and around this area. Certainly there are similarities to the northern Italian and Swiss mountainous regions, and of course language barriers made it important to congregate together. Some Swiss and Italians made their fortune on the goldfields, but the less lucky saw their future in agricultural pursuits, such as wine-making and dairying, as well as using other skills such as stone-masonry. Many agricultural and social activities still survive in today’s community, along with many names of Swiss and Italian origin.
Spices, wine and garlic make bull-boar a distinctive sausage. The recipe is at risk of extinction in the Swiss/Italian population because of the huge investment and time and labour to make a batch of these sausages. To Italian immigrants, it was simply referred to as salsiccie or ‘sausage’.
It was called bull-boar on the goldfields by the English-speaking settlers because it contained both beef and pork in roughly equal proportions, with lean beef and pork that is roughly half fat and lean. The sausage is made with wine in which garlic has steeped and has a sharp, almost ‘high’ taste. It is less fatty than most sausages so can feel slightly dry. It is full of spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice, so during cooking it releases an aroma like a meaty hot cross bun.
Every family in the district has their own recipe which are all carefully guarded secrets. In many instances, apart from their family name, it is their last link with their Italian-speaking forebears who settled the area. The traditional way of cooking bull-boars is to drop them into a pot of water and then bring it to simmering point for 10 minutes.
Today, bull-boar sausage is made by a handful of local butchers. There is danger of the name being used to produce inferior product. In Hepburn Springs – a center of Swiss-Italian immigration – an annual festival celebrates local food traditions, including bull-boar sausage.
Area of production
Post Office Box 500
Elsternwick Victoria 3185
T 03 9532 7997
F 03 9533 0944
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