Archive for January, 2015

Odd Sausages from Apicius

As a reminder, faggots are meatballs wrapped in caul. I wonder if there is some etymological link to fagotti, the stuffed pasta that looks like this:


Apicius ( p 147 in Grocock and Grainger’s edition)

Faggots from mussels: cook the mussels, beard them and pound them (though you may not want to boil, and you may want to beard the ussels first). Next you pound with them cooked alica (a form of emmer groat that is similar to semolina) and eggs, pepper and liquamen. Make the forcemeat with this and with pine nuts and pepper. Roast them wrapped in caul fat. Sprinkle them with oenogarum. Serve them as you would forcement (faggots).

Forcemeat faggots: you pound chopped meat with fresh white breadcrumbs  soaked in wine, with pepper and liquamen; if you wish, you pound crushed myrtle berries with them.  You shape the faggots with pine nuts and pepper placed inside. Wrap them in caul fat and roast them with caroenum. (The Latin word for roasting here is used elsewhere to mean grilling/roasting a little to finish cooking, after the sausages have been pre-cooked by boiling. Forcemeat is the term used by Grainger and Grocock to describe chopped meat that has been shaped, likely into a ball or patty)

P 151

Peacock faggots rank in the first place, provided that they are fried until they burst their skins. Pheasant faggots rank in the second place, then rabbit third, then chicken fourth and tender young pork ones are fifth.

P 153 Forcemeat stuffing for womb is made like this: ground pepper and cumin and two small leeks peeled down to the tender parts, rue and liquamen. These are mixed with pieces of meat which have been thoroughly beated and pounded so that they can then be blended with the spice mix. Add peppercorns and pine nuts, suff (the mixture) into a well-washed womb (which must also be tied or sewn up before cooking); they are cooked like this in water, oil and liquamen, with a bundle of leek and dill.


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My copy of this book, by C.R. Dodwell (Cornell University Press, 1982), arrived today and the picture is there, in plate 34. It is only in black and white, but I have found a coloured version of the picture that looks identical, and the colours are plausible for the period.


Drawing of a feast from a manuscript probably made at Winchester, mid-eleventh century (British Library, MS. Cotton Tiberius C VI, fol. 5v)

Interestingly, it is in a chapter on textiles (presumably because of the hanging curtains as there are other pictures of curtains). I must now resist the temptation to go down another rabbit hole of research, and get back to focusing on my sausages. But chapters on artists and craftsmen of Anglo-Saxon England, painting and carving, textiles, costume and vestments, and jewellery, silver and gold are oh, so tempting…


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I heard back from the British Museum and the nice lady confirmed that this is indeed from the Cotton Tiberius. It is stored at the British Library but not among the digitized images on the website. However, the website had lots of info about the manuscript, and the nice lady also gave me an email to see whether they might have a digitized image the could share. She also gave me the name of a book that has a picture (right down to the plate number).  I’ll post everything as soon as I can; in the meantime, I’m pretty pleased with my research skills.

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Bologna, King of Meats

This is not quite my mother’s tube steak, Newfoundland steak, the stuff that graced my elementary school lunch box.

Closely related to mortadella, (and the best mortadella is said to come from the city of Bologna), this particular sausage seems to have started its documented life known as cirvelato. Later, its name changed to Re del carni (king of meats). Outside of Italy, the name Bologna was used.

From our earliest source, Martino, we have this recipe (p 56):

How to Prepare King of Meats with Pork or Young Veal

Take some lean meat trimmed of all its sinew, in other words, from the haunch, and some good pork fat or veal fat. Then take some good aged cheese and a bit of fatty cheese and some good spices and two or three eggs and take the necessary amount of salt; and carefully mix all these things together and make them yellow with some saffron; and take some large pork intestines and clean well, making sure that they are thin and that no fat has remained; and fill with the mixture and press it into the intestines, making the sausages as long or as short as you like, and they should be boiled within two days because after that they will no longer be as good. Nonetheless, they can be conserved for fifteen or twenty days, or longer, if properly handled.

This recipe used cervellata in the original, the name for a type of blood sausage still made in southern Italy. By the end of the seventeenth century, this dish had become known as the “King of Meats” (Re delle Carni).

Platina’s version, p 90, is very similar:


Veal meat and soft pork fat are well ground and grated aged rich cheese and well ground spices. Beat together two or three eggs, as much salt as is required, and saffron for color; all this you will mix together and after it is blended, stuff it into an intestine that has been well washed and stretched thin. These should be cooked in a cauldron. They are only good for two days. But they can be kept for fifteen days or more if you add more salt and spices or dry them out in smoke.

Neapolitan Recipe Collection (p 189) uses the name cirvelato:

Cirvelato of Pork or Veal

Get meat from the haunch of these animals along with their fat and cut it up small, so it can be well beaten with the knife; then get good Parmesan cheese and new fat cheese, good spices and three or two fresh eggs depending on the amount of the meat, and mix all this together with a little saffron; then get large intestines as are normally used, clean them thoroughly so that no fat is left, stuff them with this mixture and pack it tightly into the intestines, making [the sausages] as long or as short as you like; cook them by boiling; they will not be finished [i.e. ready for eating] for two days.

 The Neapolitan Recipe Collection also has a recipe called Bologne, at p 190, though the addition of fennel, and the smoking instruction, makes it sound more like a Lucanian sausage. This may be one of the earliest indications of Lucanian sausage moving from the South of Italy, where it originated, to Northern Italy, which is now seen as its traditional home:

To make good Bolognese Sausage

Get twenty-five pounds of pork or veal from the haunch, without gristle or fat, and beat it as much as you can; for these twenty-five pounds of meat add fifteen ounces of salt and one and a half ounces of ground and whole pepper; then get large intestines, clean and wash them well and fill them as tightly as you can with the meat and make them a hand’s length long after the Bolognese custom; then set them to dry in smoke.

This is how a prince has them made. In truth they would be even better with two ounces more salt and half an ounce more pepper, too. And see that in these seventeen ounces of salt there is at least two ounces of the white sort, unground. Furthermore, you can make fat ones by taking half lean [meat] and half fat, and adding in a good lot of fennel, but those ones are not for keeping.

The Ouverture du Cuisine, published in 1604 by Lancelot de Castieau, cook to three princes of Liège, has a recipe for Bologna sausage ( http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/ouverture.html):

To make Bologna sausage.

Take six pounds of slightly fatty pork, & cut into slices, & put in a cloth, put it in a press to squeeze out the blood, & let sit one hour in the press until the blood is all out, then chop it coarsely, not too small, put therein four ounces of salt, an ounce of pepper, grind coarsely, one ounce of cinnamon well powdered with a fine sieve, & mix all together with the salt, & put into the meat, & take eight ounces of Spanish wine, & mix it well by hand for a half hour, when all will be incorporated into the meat, then take beef intestines that are thicker than you want the sausage, then fill with the meat as hard as possible, & have a thick eplingue at hand for always piercing the intestine, at the end that doesn’t have any hole therein, & that the meat will be well compacted, then tie the intestine well closed thereon & thereon of the length that you want to have the sausage, then have a cauldron of boiling water on the fire, & put to boil the sausages in three or four boilings, & cut them apart, then hang them at the chimney five or six days until they are well dried.

Lancelot gives two other recipes of interest related to Balogna. The first is a Ceruelade (much more like the bologna recipes of Martino, Platina and the Neapolitan Recipe book than the one he calls Balogna sausage):

To make fine Ceruelade.

Take six pounds of meat like above, but it shouldn’t be too fatty, then take a half ounce of pepper, & half ounce of cinnamon, & half ounce of nutmeg, a little saffron, moistened with a bit of Spanish wine that with the others, then make sausages like the others.

The second is a version made with fish:

Bologna Sausage of fish.

Take three pounds of fresh salmon, two pounds of carp meat, a pound of smoked salmon, & chop well all together, then take one ounce of coarsely ground pepper, a half ounce of powdered cinnamon, three ounces of salt, half a sopine of Spanish wine, & three yolks of eggs, & make sausage like the others.

Finally, today’s picture is of the medieval centre of Bologna, a UNESCO World Heritage site today.


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Flower and Rosenbloom sausages 2.1.7

Sausages. Grill pig’s liver and remove the sinews and skin. But first pound pepper, rue, and liquamen, then add the liver, pound well, and mix. <Form rissoles and cover with sausage skin> like meat sausages. Wrap each in bay-leaves and hang to smoke for as long as you please. When you want to eat them take down and grill again. There is a note that omentum is translated as sausage skin, for convenience.

Grocock and Grainger’s version

Faggots are made this way: you roast pork liver and remove the sinews. Beforehand you grind pepper, rue, and liquamen, pour this over the liver, grind it and prepare it like meat faggots (ie wrap them in caul fat first). Individual bay leaves are wrapped around the faggots and they are hung in the smoke as long as you like. When you want to eat them take from the smoke and roast them again.

Faggots are the English name for a dish that is somewhere between a sausage and a haggis. It is traditionally made of pork heart, liver, and fatty belly meat or bacon mixed together with herbs. The earliest cited versions of this dish were wrapped in caul (it appeared with this description in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1851).

On the Tuscan Food Diary blog (http://forums.egullet.org/topic/62033-tuscan-food-diary/page-2), someone has come up with a good explanation for the name faggots, complete with pictures:

‘Faggot’ is very similar to the Italian “fegato” (liver) and I have had a private theory that the English Faggot sausage is a transliteration of the Italian for liver. You know the scenario, Traveling Italian sausage maker in medieval England is asked what that item is and he says “Fegato”, locals remember it as “faggot”. Anyway, yesterday I came across this item, called a “fegattinini” (little liver).


fagattini cooked

Vehling’s version

Liver Kromeskis (Omentata)

Omentata are made in this manner: [lightly] fry pork liver, remove skin and sinews first. Crush pepper and rue in a mortar with [a little] broth, then add the liver, pound and mix. This pulp shape into small sausage, wrap each in caul and laurel leaves and hang them up to be smoked. Whenever you want and when ready to enjoy them take them out of the smoke, fry them again, and add gravy (he notes that the mention of gravy is “wanting in G.-V. – the Giarratano-Vollmer Edition published in Liepzig in 1922 – The original continues without interruption to the next, an entirely new formula.”).

Vehling comments that “minced meats wrapped in caul and fried are kromeskis in kitchen terminology”. However, when I looked up the word kromeski, I found definitions that made them sound more like croquettes.

Platina’s version (p 90 of the Falconwood Press edition):

Forcemeat from Liver
After you have ground them up, prepare the livers of pork or whatever animal you will in the way you would with cheese and let them boil a little. Then cut enough pork belly for the amount of liver and take as much as you consider to be the proper amount of aged cheese, marjoram, parsley, raisins, and spices ground up and mixed with the yolks of two eggs. Having formed this into one mass, make little balls the size of a nut and wrap them in sausage casing and when you wish fry them in a pan with lard. They should be slowly and lightly cooked. The common folk call this tomacula, which perhaps they would better call omacula since these are wrapped in omentum, or else tomacla as it pleased Martial to say.

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As it is new year’s eve, it dawns on me that I have never explained the sudden interest in sausages. In fact, I have been fascinated by sausages for many years, having spent much of my childhood in Germany (land of bratwurst, weiswurst, bierwurst, liverwurst, etc). As part of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s A&S50 Challenge of making 50 things before the Society’s 50th anniversary in May 2015, I made 50 pounds of sausages with my friend Rozalynd (I posted the picture of some of our results here: https://siglindesarts.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/13th-c-andalusian-merguez/). In November, I rechallenged into the Kingdom of Ealdormere’s Order of the White Wolf Fian with a commitment to research medieval sausages and recreate as many of the recipes as I could before November 2015. I have gotten rather excited, and am beginning to worry that I will never get through the research in time to devote enough hours to making sausages. So, dear readers, be prepared to read a lot about sausage history in the next month or so, and then sit back enviously as I test my skills at what is shaping up to be several dozen sausage recipes.

Tonight, I’m looking at tomacelli recipes.

From Martino’s The Art of Cooking (p 56):

How To Prepare Tomacelli

Take some pork livers and some other livers and boil, but do not overcook; then grate as you would cheese; take the necessary amount of salt-cured pork belly and chop. Take a bit of aged cheese and fatty cheese and a little marjoram and parsley, raisins, spices, and two or three eggs, as needed, and grind all these things together with the livers. Then shape the tomacelli into pieces the size of walnuts or eggs, and wrap each one separately with pork caul fat. Then cook in a pan with good lard, slowly, so that they will not overcook.

According to Jeremy Parzen, the translator and annotator, “the word tomacelli, from the Latin tomaculum, meaning “liver sausage,” survives today in the Ligurian dish tomaxelle – braised veal roulades filled with ground meat, sweetbreads, spinal cord, and mushrooms.

Platina’s version (Falconwood Press edition, p 90) is as follows:

Forcemeat from Liver

After you have ground them up, prepare the livers of pork or whatever animal you will in the way you would with cheese and let them boil a little. Then cut enough pork belly for the amount of liver and take as much as you consider to be the proper amount of aged cheese, marjoram, parsley, raisins, and spices ground up and mixed with the yolks of two eggs. Having formed this into one mass, make little balls the size of a nut and wrap them in lard. They should be slowly and lightly cooked. The common folk call this tomacula, which perhaps they would better call omacula since these are wrapped in omentum or else tomacla, as it pleased Martial to say.

The Neapolitan Recipe Collection (Cuoco Napoletano), edited and translated by Terence Scully (University of Michigan Press, 2000) has two liver sausage recipes on p 185. The simpler version is simply called Little Livers:

Get the liver of any animal you wish, cut it up into pieces the size of a walnut, and coat the pieces with good spices and salt; then tie them up one by one in a clean piece of mesentery [a fold of tissue that attaches organs to the abdominal wall], and mount them on a spit; they should not be overcooked.

The next recipe is for Tomaselle:

Get pork liver or veal liver and boil it, but not too much, then grate it; get a pound of pork belly, cook it well and pound it thoroughly; then get a little old cheese and creamy cheese and grate them; and well ground parsley and marjoram, along with raisins, eggs, saffron and good spices, and mix everything together; then get a piece of mesentery and in it wrap that stuffing in wads the size of a walnut – and they should be no larger than a walnut; then cook them gently in good lardo in a pan on hot coals.

Barbara Santich, in “The Original Mediterranean Cuisine” (Chicago Review Press, 1995, p 81), quotes a recipe for tomacelli from Libro de Arte Coquinaria, but does not cite Martino’s cookbook or any other by that name in her bibliography. Martino’s translation comes without the original Italian for comparison, but the English versions appear to be virtually identical. She also provides a similar recipe for Roroles de fetges – liver rissoles – that appears in Mestre Robert’s Libre del Coch (published in Barcelona in 1520). “In this recipe spoonfuls of the mixture are fried without the benefit of caul fat, but Mestre Robert is equally concerned that they should not be overcooked: ‘when you see that they are the colour of gold, take them from the pan, for they are already cooked’.

Apicius also has a liver sausage (p 65 in the Roman Cookery Book by Flower and Rosenbaum):

Sausages. Grill pig’s liver and remove the sinews and skin. But first pound pepper, rue, and liquamen, then add the liver, pound well, and mix. Form rissoles and cover with omentum like meat sausages. Wrap each in bay-leaves and hang to smoke for as long as you please. When you want to eat them take down and grill again.

Finally, because I have decided that every post needs a picture, if possible, here is an undated etching by German artist Daniel Hopfer the Elder (1470-1536) found at the Yale University Art Gallery:

Moresca Dancers surrounding a Sausage-seller

2012.142.1, 177754

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