Matthew Evans dives deep into the question 'what does what I eat, eat?' turning his attention to soil regeneration this season, which starts 8pm Thursday 1 August on SBS.
By
9 Jul 2019 - 4:35 PM  UPDATED 14 Aug 2019 - 4:14 PM

In this season, Matthew poses a currently novel question, What does what I eat, eat? From what his animals graze on to the earth his fruit and vegetables grow out of, he turns to the soil. It’s something we take for granted.

If you have the right fertilisers, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and water, you get food. Such a simple equation produces the bulk of our food – but at a price: weak soil which is vulnerable to drought & weeds and food that is more vulnerable to pests. All of which amounts to less nutritious and less tasty food.

Matthew’s challenge now is to leave his land in a better condition than what he found it for future generations by embarking on various projects from digging swales to trap water, companion planting, and crop rotation. And in his usual refrain, he wonders, How hard can it be?

Episode 1 | Good food needs good soil

Airs 8pm Thursday 1 August, 2019 on SBS

Matthew’s Fat Pig Farm Kitchen has been feeding people for over a year now, but he knows that the quality of his food is only as good as the soil it comes from; so, he embarks on a 12-month mission to transform the food he serves and the way it's farmed.

Gathering soil samples from all over his property for testing, and learning from one of Tasmania’s leading experts in regenerative agriculture, Matthew undertakes the huge challenge to make his soil more productive and his land healthier for future generations.

Recipes
Fermented zucchini

The glut of zucchini has us using every trick in the book to try to preserve their delicate flavour. Fermenting extends their life, and keeps that ethereal flavour that is so readily lost when you pickle using vinegar.

Blackberry fool

A fool is usually a mix of fruit puree and cream, custard or similar. Here I use the luscious fruit of the dreaded weed, the blackberry, and use both custard and cream for a fuller mouthfeel.

 

Episode 2 | Fermented flavours

Airs 8pm Thursday 8 August, 2019 on SBS

Autumn has come around on the farm and Matthew has been told goats are the natural solution to tackling the farm's blackberry problem. With the garden overflowing with Autumn veg, Sadie opts to trade fresh for fermented and takes some tomatoes to a local who offers up homemade miso paste. Matthew later experiments with the miso in the kitchen.

Recipes
Japanese turnip and radish salad with kunzea

Kunzea is a native Tasmanian herb and is best, in our experience used dried. It’s got a powerful aroma reminiscent of citrus and thyme, overlaid with the scent of the Tassie bush. Here I’ve used it in a light miso-dressed dish of sweet turnips and radish.

Cultured butter

You can culture butter using a tablespoon of yoghurt, sour cream or buttermilk. We’ve started using kefir, because it adds a whole other level of flavour to our exceptional jersey cream. 

 

Episode 3 | The elegance of good ideas

Airs 8pm Thursday 15 August, 2019 on SBS

With Winter setting in Matthew welcomes a herd of goats to solve his Blackberry infestation without using a single pesticide and begins to tackle Fat Pig Farms longterm soil health by planting an edible native garden while designing and building an age old form of landscaping that will benefit his farm for hundreds of years.

Recipes
Stir-fried mushrooms, beans and pork

I like to use both fresh and dried mushrooms with green beans and a tiny bit of minced pork, to add depth and complexity. This is one way of many to get the best out of these ingredients.

Caramelised Brussels sprouts with prosciutto

A cracking way to make Brussels sprouts more enticing is to cook them so they start to colour up. If you’ve got some prosciutto on hand, it makes a great accompaniment. In its absence, a little fried bacon can also do the trick.

 

Episode 4 | Food For The Land

Airs 8pm Thursday 22 August, 2019 on SBS

After having the health of his farm soil tested Matthew receives the results and needs to explore new ways to rest and rehabilitate the damaged earth in his pig paddocks. He experiments with an acorn pig feed and builds his own mobile chicken pen to fertilise the soil with their life-giving poo.

Recipe
Baked pork ribs with tomato and mustard

These are the simplest ribs we cook and they’re a family favourite. A touch of home-made tomato sauce in the sauce gives them a little more depth and sweetness; the vinegar balances that sweetness, and the mustard provides depth.

 

Episode 5 | The apple of my eye

Airs 8pm Thursday 29 August, 2019 on SBS

With Sadie and Hedley away, Matthew has got his work cut out for him managing the farm on his own and repairing winter rot in the farm’s apple orchards. But to surprise Sadie for her birthday he badly wants to build her a new herb garden and plant a whole row of Camellias before she returns.

Recipes
Matthew's soft polenta

You can use white polenta made from white corn, if you can find it, for a more subtle result. Use the polenta as an accompaniment to a ragu of some kind, or ossobuco. Italians have told me to only stir in one direction, but I’ve found that it has made no difference to the end result when I reverse the stirring to rest my arm.

Sadie’s birthday apple cake

I adore this recipe, adapted from a school recipe book from Western Australia. It’s a very moist, crumbly cake that is delicious at room temperature and gets better on the second day after it’s made.

To surprise Sadie for her birthday he badly wants to build her a new herb garden and plant a whole row of Camellias

 

Episode 6 | Living the dream 

Airs 8pm Thursday 5 September, 2019 on SBS

If there is an art to outdoor cooking than why not have a barbecue that’s a work of art. Matthew realises a long held day dream when he installs an incredible outdoor fire pit built by one of Tassie’s most talented blacksmiths, and with his farm work done Matthew finally catches something from the ocean worth bragging about.

Recipes
Ossobuco with gremolata

This Italian dish is made using the sliced shin of veal or beef, the name meaning literally ‘bone hole’ after the marrow bones you use. Essentially a lovely stew, the crowning glory is the zesty gremolata added at the end.

Baked squid and chorizo

Fresh squid goes really well with the flavour of chorizo, the lightly cured pork sausage of Spain. As with so many things, only good squid and good chorizo will produce the best result.

 

Episode 7 | The hungry patch

Airs 8pm Thursday 12 September, 2019 on SBS

Its Spring on Fat Pig Farm, the hungry patch, everything is furiously growing but there is almost nothing to harvest yet. Matthew creates an incredible pie with the few things that are available in the garden and learns the intricacies of how to forage for wild food in Tasmania.

Recipes
Sardinian flatbread

I learned to make these in Sardinia with a friend’s aunt in the hills near the east coast. She nagged us the whole time to keep working and keep the dough moving as she mopped out her huge wood oven with aromatic herbs from the vacant lot out the back of her house.

Leafy greens pie with yoghurt pastry

We love cooking with the leafy tops of our radishes, swedes and Japanese turnips but you can use whatever greens you have on hand including silverbeet, nettles or spinach.

 

Episode 8 | Little wonders

Airs 8pm Thursday 19 September, 2019 on SBS

With Spring in full swing and bugs in abundance, Matthew invites an insect scientist to survey the health and wealth of the farm’s insect population. He learns just how important insects are to the ecosystem and health of his farm, how to cook and eat one of Australia’s most common garden pests, and what a huge impact insects have on feeding the entire planet.

Recipes
Snails with pepperberry and garlic broth

You can only use properly purged snails for this Spanish-influenced dish. Don’t be put off by the slime - the end result is remarkably delicious.

Eggplant pizzaiola

The term pizzaiola in Italy means 'in the style of pizza'; here using smoked cheese to add intrigue - though you can use ordinary mozzarella too. A piece of thin chicken or veal can be swapped for, or added to, the eggplant.

Episode 9 | Two for one

Airs 8pm Thursday 26 September, 2019 on SBS

It’s high summer, Matthew is focused on making the most of the gardens first flush of raspberries. But with the
garden and soil now in such rude health, he’s looking for ideas on how he can improve his approach to the animals he farms for the restaurant table by exploring the idea of using dual-purpose cattle breeds for milk and beef and a new breed of chicken that produces great quality eggs and meat.

Recipes
Confit sage chicken

The confit is delicious served with lots of roasted pumpkin and a chestnut and potato puree. Or you can strip the meat from the bone and toss through fresh pappardelle with roughly mashed roast pumpkin.

Rose geranium jelly with raspberries

Real jelly should be so soft it can't be tipped out of a mould. For this one, it's worth begging, borrowing or stealing the geranium leaves - just so long as it's not from my house. 

 

Episode 10 | A year in the life

Airs 8pm Thursday 3 October, 2019 on SBS

It’s been 12 months, 4 seasons and lots of hard lessons since Matthew set out to transform his cherished slice of Tassie into a farm that grows healthy food while regenerating healthy soils, leaving it more productive and healthier for generations to come. From planting native gardens and reshaping entire hillsides with water
channels, to tackling a runaway infestation of noxious Blackberry weeds without using a single chemical herbicide. He’s tried it all, so which ideas worked and which didn’t?

Recipe
Pepperberry ice-cream

The scent of Tassie’s native pepperberry adds a lovely note to luscious ice-cream. You can make the basic custard, called an ‘anglaise’ in French, in a double boiler, which helps ensure you don’t overcook it.

 

Matthew Evans is back in his brand-new series of Gourmet Farmer, 8pm Thursday nights on SBS and on SBS On Demand.