The 7th book of De Re Coquinaria, the widest source for ancient Roman cooking, collects a series of miscellaneous recipes that include, for instance, offal, salted meat (for example, ham and cured pork fatback, laridum in Latin), but also lampascioni, snails, sweets, mushrooms and truffles, eggs, taro, and methods to prepare steaks, stews, roasts, and simmered meat without specifying which kind of meat to use. The recipe we are presenting today is one of these: a raw and aromatic sauce for simmered meat.
We chose pork collar, because pork is one of the most popular meats in ancient Rome and collar is a fat and savory cut particularly suitable for this kind of preparation, but you can use the meat you want: with lamb, mutton, veal, or beef, for example, you obtain an excellent outcome. We used a good amount of onion, one-quarter of a big onion, but if you choose a leaner cut, you may reduce this quantity. Romans had at their disposal several kinds of onions, including scallion and shallot, which pair well with kinds of meat with a more delicate flavor. Feel free to experiment to your taste.
The author of De Re Coquinaria, here, uses one of his favorite aromatic herbs, rue, which may be difficult to find. In Italy, it grows wild in many regions, and recently, we harvested and dried a good amount of it since we found a lot of plants while we were hiking in the Apennines, but anyway, we prefer to keep some plants in our garden. If you want to prepare authentic Roman recipes, we recommend doing the same, buying a plant or growing it from seed.
If you do not have or like rue, consider using another herb. The flavor of rue is impossible to substitute, being very peculiar, but you may find another herb that pairs well with the pepper and fennel seeds, for example oregano, marjoram, savory, or thyme. The outcome will be different, but delicious anyway.
The author of this recipe does not provide the ratio among the ingredients. We recommend two pinches each of spices, a few leaves of rue, and a tablespoon of garum and olive oil. Like always, you may substitute garum with a pinch of salt or a South-East Asian fish sauce, as well as with muria, the ancient equivalent of colatura di alici.
The first six books of De Re Coquinaria are available on Patreon, with other translations of ancient and medieval sources in addition to several articles on historical food. For more information about ancient cuisine, we suggest reading our book Ancient Roman Cooking. Ingredients, Recipes, Sources.
To know more about the passage between ancient and medieval cooking, check out our new book, with the translation, commentary, and glossary of a beautiful 6th-century source, De Observatione Ciborum, written by the physician Anthimus to the king of the Franks Theuderic. This book contains some of the earliest medieval recipes, in addition to information about the diet of the Franks and the differences between their food habits and the alimentation of the Mediterranean populations, showing the passage between ancient and late-medieval cooking.
If you are interested in late-medieval cuisine, we recommend Registrum Coquine. A medieval cookbook.
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1 kg pork collar
spices (black pepper, fennel seeds)
Simmer the meat in plain water for about 40 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Mince the onion and date. Grind in the mortar the black pepper and fennel seeds, then add a few leaves of dry rue, the onion, and date, pounding all the ingredients in the mortar, then add garum and olive oil.
When the meat is cooked, serve it with the sauce, hot or cool.
Ius in elixam: teres piper, rutam aridam, feniculi semen, cepam, caryotam, liquamen et oleum.
Sauce for simmered meat: grind pepper, dry rue, fennel seeds, onion, one date, garum, and oil.
De Observatione Ciborum by Anthimus. Early-medieval recipes at the court of the Franks.
Registrum Coquine by Johannes Bockenheim. A medieval cookbook
Ancient Roman Cooking. Ingredients, Sources, Recipes
Translations of Historical Sources
De Re Coquinaria by Apicius – books 1-6
De Observatione Ciborum by Anthimus (6th century)
Appendicula de Condituris Variis by Johannes Damascenus (8th-9th century)
De Flore Dietarum (11th century)
Tractatus de Modo Preparandi et Condiendi Omnia Cibaria – first and second part (13th-14th century)
Opusculum de Saporibus by Mainus de Maineris (14th century)
Libro de la Cocina by Anonimo Toscano – first part (14th century)
Anonimo Veneziano (14th century)
Registrum Coquine by Johannes von Bockenheim (15th century)
Chicken with Taro
Honey and Millet Libum
Ham in Crust
The diet of the ancient Germans
The diet of the Franks
Oysters and Clams
Ancient Sicilian Sea Bass
Pork Roast and Lentils with Sumac
Cuttlefish and Eggs
Gustum de Praecoquis – Appetizer with Apricots
Octopus and Cucumber Salad
Copadia Agnina – Lamb Stew
Apothermum – Spelt Cakes
Pullus Parthicus – Roast Chicken
Tisana Barrica – Barley Soup
Beef Roast and Shallots
Staitites – Ancient Greek Sweet
Chicken Meatballs and Mashed Peas
Sweet Fritters – Dulcia Domestica
Columella’s Moretum and Hapalos Artos
Ancient Roman Frittata
A Saturnalia Recipe – Roast with Saffron Sauce
Muria – Ancestor of Colatura di Alici
Globi – Ancient Roman Sweet
The Diet of the Roman Legionaries – Buccellatum, Lardum, and Posca
How to make garum
Ancient Roman Gourd and Eggs
Ofella – Ancient Roman Steak
Fruit salads – Melon and Peaches
Isicia Marina – Shrimp Cakes and Cucumber Salad
Sala Cattabia – Snow and Posca
Copadia – Beef Stew
Puls Punica – Phoenician Dessert
Farcimina – Spelt and Meat Sausages
Ova Spongia ex Lacte – Sweet Omelettes
Flatbread and Chickpea Soup
Salted Fish with Arugula Sauce
Savillum – Cheesecake
Pasta and Meatballs – Minutal Terentinum
Venison Stew with Spelt Puls
Veal with Allec Sauce – Ius in Elixam Allecatum
Isicia Omentata – Meatballs Wrapped in Caul Fat
Placenta – Honey Cheesecake
Pork Laureate – Porcellum Laureatum
Poppy Seed Bread with Ancient Dry Yeast
Cured Olives and Epityrum