Brodettum is a kind of medieval dish prepared in many ways, but in most cases, following the method described, we obtain a broth, more or less thick. In the case of this recipe, taken from Johannes Bockenheim’s Registrum Coquine, as well as the following recipe that we find in the same cookbook, the outcome is something completely different, resulting in a savory and thick dish with a creamy texture.
This recipe, recommended to laics (whereas the following, with cheese and without meat, is for priests), probably contains a mistake, made by both the copyists of the two manuscripts survived. Whereas the texts give the direction to avoid stirring the brodettum before serving it, both recipes specify that it must be plated. In this way, however, we ruin the appearance of this dish, at least partially. It would make a lot more sense to cook it directly in the plate in which it is served. We choose to follow the recipe exactly as it was written, but by cooking single portions in their vessels we would obtain a better outcome.
The author writes nothing about the cut of pork we have to use or the kind of cheese. We have many options: with an aged cheese, for example pecorino or Parmigiano, and a fat cut, for instance collar or belly, we obtain a dish with a stronger flavor. We chose pork loin and fresh caciotta, but as a medieval cook would say, the proper way to prepare a dish is by following your taste.
Another ingredient is fat broth: you may use the broth obtained by simmering the pork or a different broth made, for example, with hen or beef.
The only spice directly mentioned by the author is saffron, crocus, with the addition of sweet spices dusted on the plates. Johannes Bockenheim does not provide a list of sweet spices, but we find two blends in Anonimo Toscano and Anonimo Veneziano‘s manuscripts. In addition to saffron, the spices considered sweet are ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and Indian bay leaves. Choose the ones you prefer.
The following recipe, as we mentioned above, is a cheese brodettum for the priests, without meat but essentially identical to this recipe, with further addition of spices to the mixture besides the ones dusted on top when serving the plate. In this case, the author specifies that the cheese must be fresh (caseum recens).
To know more about the source of this recipe, check out our book Registrum Coquine. A medieval cookbook. In addition, it is available our 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.
For more information about ancient food, we recommend reading Ancient Roman Cooking. Ingredients, Recipes, Sources and check out our Patreon page, in which you find several articles about historical food and the translations of ancient and medieval sources.
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300 grams pork loin
150 grams firm cheese
spices (saffron, cloves, cinnamon)
Simmer the meat in water. Remove it from the fire keeping the broth aside. Steep the saffron in a bit of broth and grind the spices in the mortar. Mince the meat and cheese, then mix them with the saffron and eggs, adding a bit of broth and two pinches of salt.
Cook the mixture at low heat without stirring it for about 10 minutes. Plate and serve, dusting with the spices.
Ad faciendum brodettum de carnibus pro laicis. Recipe carnes porcinas coctas et pista illas cum cultello et tempera illas cum caseo et ovis crudis, croco, et brodio grasso, et mitte in patella, et non moveas donec venit tempus prandendi. Et tunc mitte speties dulces ad scutellam pro laicis.
To make meat brodettum for the laics. Pound cooked pork with a knife. Then mix it with cheese, raw eggs, saffron, and fat broth. Place the mixture in a pot, not moving it until it is time for lunch. Then serve it in plates dusting with sweet spices; for the laics.
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Ancient Roman Recipes Playlist
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Medieval Recipes Playlist
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)
Anonimo Toscano – first part (14th century)
Anonimo Veneziano (14th century)
Registrum Coquine by Johannes von Bockenheim (15th century)
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