Drunken Pork – Early Medieval Pork Stew


Pork, frequently served whole, was one of the most common meats in the Antiquity and Middle Ages. We find a huge number of recipes in all the cookbooks. This week, we prepare a recipe from the Excerpta Vinidarii, a short cookbook that we find as an appendix of an 8th-century manuscript of De Re Coquinaria, the book conventionally attributed to Apicius. We know just Vinidarius’ name, but some scholars guessed he could have been a Goth, lived between the 5th and the 6th century, during the Gothic Kingdom of Italy. However, his name probably did not sound Gothic to a Latin speaker, because it seems likely composed by Darius, the Latinization of a name of Persian origin, and the signa Vinus, a sort of plebeian surname. The literal translation of his name is Darius Wine, and it would look like a funny name to a Latin speaker. In any case, Vinidarius’ manuscript appears to be written later than Apicius’, for the use of some ingredients and the orthography of some words, clearly not classic. However, this cookbook is in a good part an imitation of Apicius’ recipes, with many preparations in common and similar methods. This porcellum aenococtum is one of them. Aenococtum is a term that appears in an Apicius’ analogous (but more complex) recipe, and seems to be a spelling variant of oenococtum, which means cooked in wine. Besides, this is the method of both the recipes, in which appear wine and raisin wine as essential ingredients. We suggest pairing this pork stew with a barley polenta or a puls, staple food in ancient Rome. Other Vinidarius’ recipes we prepared in the past months are lamb stew, red mullet soup, and fried fish. Below, you will find the original text with our translation, the video of the recipe, and a note about the ingredients. Enjoy!

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Ingredients 800 gr pork loin rue spices (long pepper, bay laurel berries) raisin wine red wine garum olive oil

Method Pour in a pan olive oil and a bit of garum, cooking the meat for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, grind in the mortar the long pepper and one bay laurel berry, then mince the rue. Add in the mortar the rue, raisin wine, red wine, and a bit of garum, mixing all the ingredients. Pour in a pan the sauce and add the meat, cooking it for about 45 minutes. The cooking time changes depending on the cut and the size of the meat. Add a bit of wine if the sauce reduces too much. Once the meat is cooked, remove it from the pan and thicken the sauce with a bit of wheat starch diluted in water. As soon as it starts to boil, plate the meat and coat it with the sauce.

Porcellum Aenococtum - Preview

Note about the ingredients Rue is one of the most used aromatic herbs in ancient Rome, but its use continues during the Middle Ages. It is the only one in this recipe, a simplification common in Vinidarius’ book, whereas in Apicius’ it is most frequent finding many aromatic herbs. If you do not have it, use another aromatic herb instead. Other herbs that appear in Vinidarius’ cookbook are dill, cilantro, and mint. Caroenum and raisin wine are commonly used in ancient cuisine as sweeteners. We chose raisin wine, but if you prefer, you can prepare caroenum. The method is clearly described by Palladius in his agricultural book. To make it, destem and pound table or wine grapes in the mortar, extracting the juice. Sift and pour it in a pan, boiling it down at low heat until it reduces by a third of the original volume. We used long pepper, the most prized since the Antiquity, but the author does not specify which kind to choose. You can use white or black pepper instead. Vinidarius uses both wheat and rice starch, but in this case, he provides no directions. The recipe is meant for the whole pork. Choose the cut you prefer, for example loin or collar.

Porcellum Aenococtum - Thumbnail

Original text Porcellum aenococtum: porcellum accipies, ornabis, coque in oleo et liquamine. Cum coquitur, adicies in mortario piper, rutam, bacam lauri, liquamen, passum sive caroenum, vinum vetus, simul omnia teres, temperas et traicies in patinam aheneam. Mittis eum. Porcellum eo iure percoque, cum autem levas, amulo obligabis et sic in vas transferes et inferes.

Translation Pork cooked in wine: take the pork, arrange it, and cook in oil and garum. When it cooks, add in the mortar pepper, rue, bay laurel berry, garum, raisin wine or caroenum, aged wine. Pound all the ingredients together, mix, and place the sauce in a copper pan. Place the meat there. Cook the pork in this sauce, then remove it and thicken the sauce with starch. Plate and serve.

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