Homemade Bacon


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I have attempted bacon before with both pork and beef.  My first try, with pork, was horrible!  One of the salts I used, to flavor the first side of pork, rendered the pork not only to salty but tasting of dirt.  I was mortified.  I took a year off from curing till now to retry.

I now share with you a very simple curing recipe for a well-marbled fatty bit of belly.


1 Cups Kosher salt

1/2-1 Cup Sugar

1 tsp pink salt (enough for 5lb slab of meat)

1 Tbs juniper berries smooooooshed.


Gather your meat and salts/spices together.

bacon spices

Here I used a rough grained Kosher salt, regular table, sugar, juniper berries and pink salt.  When I originally made this, I erred on the side of too much salt.  I did a 2 to 1 of salt to sugar which is the right ratio but too much of the salt when rubbing.

Take your salts, spice and sugars and mix them together very well.

075Next rub this over your meat on both sides.

bacon with salt and spicesPlace in a large container.  Flip the meat every day or every other day.  The juice is part of the brine.

On the 7th day, rinse all the salts/sugar/spices off the meat in cool flowing water for 20 minutes.  This step is VERY important.  If you don’t rinse the salt off very well, the meat will be cooked with the salt on and rendered to salty.

Place on a very low heat smoker/grill.  I used hard wood charcoal.  It really does have a better cooking temperature, longevity and better flavor then the regular briquettes.  The grill I used is very nice…I managed to keep the temperature between 140 most of the time.  Occasionally it creeped up to 200 and I had to open the dampers up to cool it off.

The meat smoked for 5(ish) hours.

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The meat cut nicely…still not store bought thin, but I didn’t need thin, I needed tasty.  The final verdict is that the outer skin was a bit salty but very tasty.

November 11, 2016 | No comments

Nope, still haven’t finished the pig kicking.  I have one, maybe 4 more recipes to share.  Another awesome one from Scappi.  Definitely not for anyone who doesn’t like liver and isn’t slightly adventurous!

Pig Liver #1

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If you want to spit-roast a pork liver in a large pieces, when the membrane that is around it is removed, along with the gall bladder.  Stick the pieces with lardoons of pork fat that have been dredged in pepper, cloves, cinnamon and sweet fennel, dry and ground.  Put them onto a spit and cook them over a low fire. (Scappi, pp. 188)


Pork liver

Strips of pork fat (or uncooked thick cut bacon)

1 tsp each ground pepper, cloves, cinnamon and sweet fennel (seeds)



So here I had to slightly improvise.  I didn’t have enough sliced pork fat to make a nice tight the way I wanted the first time I did this recipe.  I really like to get a nice tight crisscross of bacon going.  So I went with the flow.

Pork pictures 160818 046All the spices first with the sliced bacon in the bacon ground.

The liver chunk was laid out while the bacon/pork fat (either will do nicely but make sure that the bacon is thick cut NOT thin) is dragged in the spice mixture.

Pork pictures 160818 048I usually like to do a nice basket weave on my bacon wrapped anything, but was low on bacon (my bad).  I pinned the strips down trying to go for maximum coverage.

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NO, I didn’t have a spit….why do you ask?  Yes, yes it is period and mentioned in the book…so is polio and piss in the water.  MOST people don’t have spits.  They’re a bitch to install in modern day houses.  The liver was then laid on the grill (wood charcoal for the fire), until the liver was cooked all the way through.

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There were scraps left after the first bite and nothing let to photograph!!  It’s not the usual way you try liver, but it is period.  Again, sometimes you gotta eat the different to say you ate period!

October 20, 2016 | No comments

So I did a bit of research on pig.  Pig is a tasty tasty animal, with a few very bad traits.  Yeah…but it’s still damn tasty.  Some of the recipes I did were amazing, some…not so much.  This is one of those recipes you just gotta try!!

Rack of ribs of a domestic pig #1

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If the pig is young, the ribs can be spit-roasted with or without their skin….You can also set the ribs to steep for a day in a seasoning composed of vinegar, must syrup, cloves of garlic and coriander.  (Scappi, pp. 185)


Pork Ribs

1 C. Vinegar

1 C. Sweet wine (or the dregs from the bottom of a sweet wine barrel)

8 cloves of garlic

2-3 tsp ground coriander



So here  I wanted to do something a little bit different.  I bought pork ribs but couldn’t find any with a good layer of fat or skin, so I wanted to take the trimmings from another dish where the skin wasn’t needed yet still had a good bit of a fat layer and tie it on over the ribs soaking overnight in the brine.  What actually happened?  I ran out of time so had to do the ribs without the fat/skin layer.

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I gathered everything up, made the brine and let the ribs soak overnight.

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The next day, I laid the ribs on a nice hot grill (no spit being available) using wood charcoal.

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Oh mai!  These are some of the best ribs I’ve eaten in a long time…and Ansteorra has some damn good rib joints, so that’s saying something!


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Give this one a try next time you fine the ribs of your dreams calling out to you.

September 29, 2016 | No comments

Sow’s Belly

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A sow’s belly is put into a press for six hours with pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ground fennel seed and salt, then wrapped around in a sugared caul and mounted on a spit.  Cook it slowly.  It is optional whether you cut it up into pieces.  If you want to parboil it first, before putting it in the press, that can be done. (Scappie, pp. 185)


1 skinned pork (sow) belly

1 tsp. ea. Ground pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, fennel seed

1 tsp. salt

Caul fat or bacon or lard




So I didn’t have a good option for sow’s belly at the Chinese market.

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I had to go with a pork shoulder with a good layer of fat.  I removed the skin and evened the meat out so that when laid flat the meat would roll up.

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Next I sprinkled all the spices (including the salt) onto the meat.

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The meat was then rolled and pinned for 6 hours.


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 I didn’t have caul fat or bacon so used the lard of the shoulder (about an inch thick).  This is then roasted for two hours at 350.

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I like this but I’m not sure I’d make it for an everyday meal.  Don’t get me wrong it’s good…but it’s a bit of work!

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This comes out succulent and flavorful…it’s a show piece rolled or sliced.  Try it at least once!

September 24, 2016 | No comments

Doing a lot of pig recipes…have to throw this one out, because it is period.



Pigs Feet

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Sage.  Take pig’s feet clean picked; then take fresh broth of beef, & draw small milk of almonds, & pigs therein; then mince sage; then grind him small, & draw out the juice through a strainer; then take cloves enough, & put therein powdered ginger, & cinnamon, galingale, vinegar, & sugar enough; salt it then, & serve forth. (Renfrow, pp. 509)



4 pigs feet, cleaned    1C. beef broth     1 C. almond milk, freshly squeezed

1 tsp minced sage     3 cloves or 1/4 tsp ground cloves     1 tsp ground ginger, cinnamon and galingale

1/3 C. vinegar     2 tsp sugar     Salt to taste



Gathering all the ingredients.  They look so nice!

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I took cleaned and split pigs feet and put these in a bath with the broth and almond milk.

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I let these boil for a bit before adding the spices, vinegar and sugar.


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I let these cook for a loooong time.  Very long time.  Roughly 4 hours.


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Pigs feet are very cartilaginous.  There isn’t a lot of meat and what is there is tough as old shoe leather, so the long cook time is for your benefit.

Once the pigs feet were tender enough to remove the flesh from the bones, I gleaned as much from the feet as possible.


Pork pictures 160818 075My honest opinion, I wouldn’t eat these again unless I’m starving.  I love smoked ham hocks in bean soup but the spicy sweet pigs feet is more than my Medieval Cook’s stomach can stand.

September 15, 2016 | No comments

So this thing happened.  The thing where you get curious “Why” something isn’t allowed.  Like say pork for Middle Eastern cooking.  I mean pork is tasty tasty meat…who doesn’t love pork?  Right?!  So I went down a rabbit hole, then Pennsic then Steppes Artisan.  Here is the research present on Pork.


The Tale of a Piggy in Period


Honorable Lady Sosha Lyon’s O’Rourke

The Tale of a Piggy in Period

Pig has a special place, whether good or bad, for the medieval cooks and gastronomics.  This edible mammal has undergone changes from a favored food for the rich to a food associated with the poor or the undesirable.    When I first started researching pigs, I did so because I find pork tasty, very tasty!  However, I do a lot of Middle Eastern cooking, which has NO pork.  I have always been curious as to why.  Pork is daaaamn tasty and seems to be readily available to both rich and poor.  The research was illuminating in many ways on both how the pig developed and why some people find pork to be unclean, therefore unedible.

Pig is defined as

1a) a young domesticated swine not yet sexually mature; broadly: a wild or domestic swine. b) an animal related to or resembling the pig.

2a) pork, b) the dressed carcass of a young swine weighing less than 130 lbs…

3) dirty, gluttonous, or repulsive person



This evolving little piggy:

Starting from the beginning, pigs evolved into one of the fastest breeding meat animals, with a digestion that can handle almost anything.  Evolution for the pig started off as a  two )toed mammal.  Most of these two toed mammals went on to become grass eaters, i.e. cows, goats, and sheep.  Grass eaters require many heavy grinding teeth to chew down grass.  They also require multi-chambered stomachs in which to break down the cellulose for the bacteria in their gut to provide enough nutrition.  Think cows chewing cud.  Pigs’ digestions is unusual in that it is very similar to humans’ digestion with one stomach and similar teeth.  They are omnivores, which means they can eat anything remotely edible.

Pigs evolved from wild to domesticated over several hundred to thousands of years.  Normally, pigs in the wild would eat nuts, roots, grains and anything that didn’t move away fast enough like grubs or dead animals.  This is called mast fed.  Pigs became attracted to human habitation because humans would throw the inedible bits away into middens (trash heaps) where dogs and pigs would forage.  The more pigs got used to feeding on human garbage the “tamer” they became, no longer having to forage for their food 100% of the time.  (Essig)

This is simplifying a more in-depth look at several genetic considerations such as flight vs. fight adaptations.  Those pigs, like dogs, with lower flight and fight genes stayed closer to humans instead of avoiding.  We’re going to let that sleeping dog lie for this paper.

Pig reproduction is comparable to that of rabbits.  Fast and furious, with lots of offspring.  They can have up to 12 piglets per litter twice a year.  That’s up to 24 piglets a year, with roughly half of those females who will be ready to breed in roughly a year’s time.  It is estimated that with 1 sow, in 6 years there will be over 2 million pigs.   (Hawaii.edu) With this type of math, soon you’re swimming in swine.

In comparison, cows can have up to one or two calves per year.  Same for sheep or goats.  Rabbits breed quickly but there isn’t a lot of meat on those tiny bones: 1-3lbs for rabbit, as compared to the 180-300 pound porker led to slaughter.  A young male swine can reach up to 200 pounds in six months kept in a pen.  If mast fed, the weight is lower at six months, taking a year plus to reach such a hefty weight.  Now that’s a lot of pork, especially if you have ways to store the meat and fat for more than a week or two.  Leave the sows to breed more piglets and you have a very quick growing, mobile and easily fed source of meat.  For people who were at the whim of the season or game, having a tame or nearly tame source of readily available meat was the difference between maybe surviving and thriving.

Looking at the other domestic animals with only one or two offspring a year, you might wonder why these mammals were held in such high regard while the pig was sidelined.  The other domesticated animals had things counting in their favor.  Cows, goats and sheep provide milk and wool besides skin and meat.  Plus, being herbivores they were easier to transport when all food to be foraged was grass.  Pigs required feed at the end of a traveling day, which was roughly ten miles.  Pigs also were not good with being in bright sun, burning easily, unlike herbivores which could be herded through hot sunny days shrugging off solar rays due to their fur.


This hungry little piggy:

Mast feeding continued as long as there were forests surrounding villages (usually small).  People would open the pens and herd the pigs to the forests then herd them back to their pens during the day.

A picture of a pig herder in an oak grove, feeding his pigs with both fallen acorns and throwing a stick into the trees to loosen another round of acorns for his charges. (Metmuseum)


November activity: Fattening Swine



Pigs, who searched out their food sources in woods, would expend 33% of their calories on just finding food.  The hope and desire was that pigs would only spend a 3:1 ratio for food-to-meat ratio instead of the original 10:1 that was common until today’s commercial farming. (Carlton)

The closer the connection to humans that pigs had the more distinctive the domesticated characteristics became.  Wild boards have long thin legs, leaner bodies with longer snouts and pointier heads.  Domesticated pigs, even those that interbreed with wild boar, retain the juvenile head form,  rounder head and shorter snout.  (Essig)

From the Luttrell Psalter, showing the 14th century spotted pig of England has many traits as that of a wild boar.




This form is so distinctive that archaeologists can determine with a glance at a pig’s head bones, dug up from any midden in any age, whether the pig was wild or domesticated.  The shape of the bones at almost any given age at the time of slaughter is telling in shape and size.  A domesticated pig’s head is smaller thinner, without the need to root for grubs under rocks or dead trees.  A wild boar’s head is wider and thicker suited to act like a plow for foraging hard to get to foods.  (theydiffer.com)

As humans stayed closer to home to farm and did less hunting, the pig became a useful domesticated food source, becoming a status symbol as found in Neolithic burials. (Carleton)  Pigs would eat the slop and forage during the day in the woods for roots and acorns.  Unfortunately, this very resourceful self-sufficiency kept the European pig from reaching a preferred body type.:Fat.  Not to say that boars weren’t heavy, they just weren’t marbled with the tasty pork fat that we’ve come to like in our modern pork chops.  Sows would go into heat while in the woods and it was male pigs’ chance to get a ride.  Domesticated or wild male, the sow did not care which. (Essig)

Pig breeding was a wishful dream for farmers who wanted a fatter more marbled meat.  Fat wasn’t an undesired trait as it is now but a necessity.  Fat could be used not just as a food source but as a food preserving source.  Pigs were an excellent source for acquiring fat.  The problem though, was that pigs who were mast fed wandered in the woods during the day where little control could be exerted on sows in heat.  Any pig would do, including wild boars.  This meant that it wasn’t until the 1800s that pigs had standardized types of breeds in Europe.  The Roman Empire and China were exceptions to this. (Carlton)


This fat little piggy:

The Roman Empire had two types of pigs; the normal mast fed opportunistic type of pig that was considered tasty with long legs and a narrow body


and a second heavier meatier fatter pig that was white with short legs and round body with heavily marbled meat.



Note the rounded shoulders and heavy jowls of the pig in the lower right portion.  This pig was the product of selective breeding and happy feeding.  No opportunistic boars need apply for the stud job on this farm!

There were a few in Rome who commented on the desirable qualities for pig and how to feed them.

Columella advised “Not to rely on acorn foraging alone but to make use of legumes for fattening as well.  He also advised breeding for a new type of pig more suitable for rapid weight gain than for ranging in the woods. “Pigs should be sought whose bodies are exceedingly wide, but squarish rather than long or round, with protruding belly and large rump rather than tall legs or hooves, a broad glandulous neck, and a short upturned snout.” (Carlton)


However when the Roman Empire fell, this pig type was lost as farms were thrown into chaos.  The mast fed pigs from feral stock could outrun the hungry wolf or human while the shorter fatter pig, not so much.  Remember it’s not that a pig has to be the fastest just faster than the slowest…and the slowest were always eaten.

China, with its very mountainous terrain, had to eke out the most farming from the worst terrain, and learned early how to keep pigs close and pick the best pigs for breeding.  They, like the Romans, liked short legged, round bellied, with lots of fat.

The European pigs started to show what we consider more desirable traits once pigs were introduced via ships from China to Europe and interbreeding could begin.  This introduction happened sometime in the 1700s, so what we consider a heritage breed is at best 300 years (roughly) old.  (Carleton)


A picture of a Chinese pig by Thomas Bewick



While pigs that we consider “heritage” are really post period, the heritage pigs fulfill several niches worth mentioning.  One of the more outstanding heritage breeds was called a Lard pig.




The Lard pig, was just what the name implied.  A pig guaranteed so round and fat while still mobile enough to walk to market that any house wife could buy enough fresh lard for her home cooking needs along with some excellently marbled cuts of meat for dinner or sausage preparation.

Worth mentioning is that much of the machinery pre-WWII was oiled with rendered pig fat (lard).  Machinery oil replaced lard in the mid-20th century.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lard)  Until this point, all lubrication was animal fat, pig fat being the easiest to render, ship and buy.  (Essig)


This poor little piggy:

Pigs got the short stick on favorability once villages became cities.  Pigs had to be driven, like cows or sheep, to market.  Besides needing to be fed every 10 miles, pigs had an ornery habit of running back towards their home styes at the slightest provocation.   One account at the start of a pig drive, which could reach up to 10,000 pigs, was to sew the eyes of a pig shut.  I’m not really sure I could personally do that but there is a post period account of how Abe Lincoln did just this as a lad driving his herd of pigs to market. (http://www.atlasobscura.com)

I have not found further in period how pigs were driven to market.  I can make assumptions such as piglets being taken in baskets.  Small, cute, easily transportable this way.  Perhaps a full grown pig had rope tied to it’s neck and either tugged along or bribed with food to follow.  Possibly even driven to market as noted on the Appalachian trails.  The pig drive idea had to come from somewhere, yes?

Because pigs weren’t herded as easily as other meat animals, when taxes were assessed (in period) and payment was needed in the form of meat, other animals were requested.  One noted taxation of animals is when the pyramid of Giza was built the Pharaoh asked for X cows, sheep or goats along with X amount of men.  Beef, sheep and goat bones were found in the middens (trash pits) for the workers and manager types for the pyramid workers.  Archaeologists have studied the buildings for workers, very straight streets and sturdy huts where the better-off managers and workers lived.  As the men stayed and married upwards or moved upward in the chain of command these meats became preferred as what the rich people ate.

Next to this “upper” city a looser collections of less well to do section(s) was uncovered.  This village was determined to be for hangers-on, composed loosely of winding paths and not very sturdy huts. Archaeologists found mostly pig bones in the middens of the shanty village that catered to the baser desires of the workers to blow a week’s wage on beer and prostitutes.  Here it is assumed that the managers and upwardly mobile workers developed a taste for beef, mutton and goat, equating these meats with better living while the poor consumed pork.  (Essig)

The Egyptians went so far as to depict Horus judging souls.  The bad souls were turned into pigs.

From the tomb of Ramses II, depicting how Horus would judge souls in the afterlife, reincarnating the nasty ones as pigs. Via Wikimedia Commons.

I Would Rather Be Herod’s Pig: The History of a Taboo

Another example of how pork became associated with the poor relates to how easily pork could be stored in salt or fat much easier than beef or mutton.  The taste of salted pork seemed to be better than that of salted beef or mutton.

For shipping and storage, pork was layered with salt in barrels.  These barrels would be sold at a very minimal pricing. This is where the term “Scraping the bottom of the barrel” comes from as those who bought the barrel knew they were in dire need of new food when they had to scrape what was left at the bottom to feed their family.   (Essig)

Pigs were plentiful which meant there was plenty of pork to go around, keeping the price within a somewhat reasonable reach for those who weren’t wealthy.  Beef, on the other hand, required refrigeration or to be sold on a day to day basis, which raised the pricing of beef.  A butcher shop that offered beef had to know his clientele was well-off enough to pay the higher price.  The same was true for sheep and goat.  The meat from these animals could be salted but was better fresh, and fresh required ice and shops that carried ice or cold counters for specialty meat were usually located in the affluent areas, not the poor.  (Essig)

Pork was so plentiful that eating pork became associated with gluttony.  Paintings, in period, that wish to allegorically show gluttony would depict people eating pork or with a pig and/or pig parts somewhere in the painting.  These portraits were usually of peasants, passed out around the bones or partially eaten remains of a pig, reinforcing the idea that only the poor would eat so much to the ruination of their health and lifestyle.




Pieter Bruegel “The Land of Cockaigne”.  Here eating to excess is the deadly sin of gluttony. Note the pig in the upper right?  As well as pork snout and portions on the table?  The peasants passed out under the table?  Gluttony was a peasant thing, nobles should never be so crass as to eat so much and pass out.


This unclean little piggy:

Once towns became bigger, different eating habits became the norm, where pigs were the walking trash collectors.  People in towns would dump out food waste into the streets, where the pigs would root around, a mobile cleaning service keeping the pigs well fed without the necessity of a stye for those living in yardless homes or apartment hovels.

However pigs had a taste for any trash including the very undesirable such as eating human waste and dead animals; both of these things were plentiful in medieval towns.  Pigs were also notorious for eating small unattended children, or severely biting them as well as the habit of eating human corpses or just attacking when agitated.

Several lawsuits were charged against pigs.  Such as in 1379 when two French pig herders were killed by their charges. The pigs who had done the killing and those pigs that had watched were put on trial.  The watching pigs were pardoned while the killing pigs were killed. (www.wired)

Another lawsuit against pigs was in 1494 when a pig was arrested for strangling and chewing on the face of a babe in the cradle, while the parents were out.  The chewing of the face and neck causing the death of the child. The judged ruled against the pig, who was strangled by hanging. (www.medievalist.net)

However not everyone raising pigs thought the eating of human feces a bad thing.  In the Far East, small outhouses were built up and over the family’s pig pen.  Human garbage and waste elimination turned into food.  


Han outhouse



The feeding habit of eating human flesh was not overlooked.  This strongly influenced both Judaism  and Muslims for refusing an easily raised meat source with horrible eating habits.  I have not found direct quotes for this reason; only pigs returning to wallow and unclean because it does not chew cud. (biblehub.com)

It is my belief that prior to towns growing so large and farms cutting down grazing lands that were the normal feeding areas for pigs, that pigs had been in good standing in Europe and the Middle East.  However once farms took away the woodlands, and towns needed more wood for fires and grains to feed the populace did the more undesirable traits become so obvious, knocking this mobile meat conversion mammal down a few pegs for eating.

The main trait that endeared the pig to humans, cleaning up the rotting and nasty from around huts, became the trait that would eventually do the pig in.


This edible little piggy:

What I learned from researching why pigs were so much in demand and so reviled, was eye opening.  We’ve all heard the jokes about never trust a man with a pig farm or why piglets aren’t in those cutsie petting zoos for kids.  Pigs like meat as much as humans do, dead or alive.  I didn’t know they would eat feces, though I did know that the slop they were fed (from reading Little House on the Prairie) was something I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.  I remember how my own father raised chickens, doing everything wrong according to the books, yet we still had eggs and chickens when I was growing up.  I think that’s sort of how pigs were raised once the forests were no longer available for free feeding.  The attitude of “Eh, survive so we can eat you later.” instead of finding a humane way of feeding and penning a potentially dangerous but edible animal.

Once we started to consume pigs, because they were easy to raise and tasty, nothing kept the pig from being used in quantity and completely.  Everything was used, nothing was wasted.  Everyone loved the prime pieces in sauce.  Intestines and fat for casing of random tidbits of meat and spices.   A soft cutable meat product, called head cheese, for the tender cooked parts on the face.  Ears, tail and feet were used to make gelatin or eaten in their own right.  Organ meats were eaten with gusto as delicacies.  There are recipes for the good cuts, the one that modern palates have grown accustomed to, and recipes for the cuts modern palates aren’t used to eating.

My three main sources for cooking are: The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi,  Take a Thousand Eggs by Renfrow, and Apicius.  (Italian, English, and Roman).  These are by no means the only cook books which have pork recipes.  I could fill an arena with all the pork dishes listed and still run out of room; however these are just a few of the books I had on hand.  The recipes vary from only excellent cuts of meat (i.e Renfrow) to what the modern palate would consider offal (i.e. Apicius) to everything from nose to tail (Scappi).


So let’s get to the good stuff, we’ve all been waiting for!  How to eat all the parts of a pig.


Ius in Aprum Elixum: Sauce for Boiled Boar

Krea Tareikhera: Pork in a Red Wine and Fennel Sauce

Minutal Ex Praecoquis: Pork and Apricots Friccasee

Cracklin’ & Pig Skin



Chawettys: Pork and Blue Cheese Pies


Pumpes: Pork Meatballs




Head Cheese

Roasted Pig Head w/Garlic Sauce

Rolled Sow Belly


Apicius: Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome. Translation by Vehling, J., Dover Publications, Inc. New York.

Essig, M., (2015). Lesser Beasts- A Snout-to-Tail-History of the humble pig. Basic Books.

Renfrow. C., (1991). Take a Thousand Eggs. Volume II. 2nd Edition.

The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570).  Translation by Scully. T., (2008). The Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library.






















August 23, 2016 | No comments

What happens when you have a cocky rooster who attacks small children?  Dinner.  This rooster got to age for 2 days in the fridge and was fork tender after roasting but I needed the perfect sauce.  Something sweet.  Something sour.  Something best served hot.  I had just the right new recipe to try out on the damn cock who went out with a squawk.

Limonada – Lemon Sauce

Peacock Dora and more 026Translation:

First make broth of chickens and the broth should be well cooked and flavorful.  And then make of it milk of peeled and minced almonds.  And put this to cook in a good pot, with spices, much ginger, saffron, and lots of white sugar and juice of lemons.   And make it to boil a lot.  And if you wish to enhance it, put in a chicken wing well minced, so that it disappears.  And this sauce should be well colored, and you should give with chickens from the spit or the pot.  And you should have much sugar and juice of lemons, in the stew that the one pull the flavor of the other.  And flavor it with salt and with spice, of sour and of sweet.  And if for chance you don’t want to make it with sugar put in of good honey.

From the 14th c. Sent Sovi.  Translation copyright Edan Rain. From: A Brief Overview of Early Spanish Cuisine. Pg. 30.


1 tsp ginger

1 pinch saffron

1 Tbsp. sugar or honey

1 C lemon juice

1 C almond milk

1 whole roasted chicken

1 C chicken broth



Roast a whole chicken.

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This rooster will offend no more.  So fresh if I squeezed he’d still be crowing.  Gather up your ingredients.  I had to wait till the chicken was roasted for the drippings.  That’ll teach me to get ahead of the recipe!

Peacock Dora and more 017Take the juice from the roasted chicken and pour into a pot.

Peacock Dora and more 018This came straight from the roasting pan of the above rooster.  I would suggest saving the drippings from any future chickens just in case you have a period sauce you want to make.  They used a LOT of what we would consider wastage now…i.e. the roasted juice and fat of a fresh cock.

Add the almond milk,

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with spices with lemon juice,

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and add the sugar.

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Give everything a stir till blended then boil.

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Once the sauce has thickened and reduced by 1/3, take the chicken and quarter it.  Place on a plate and pour the sauce over.

Peacock Dora and more 026I had to add a bit of honey because the lemon juice I used was organic, so it was NOT a mellow lemon flavor.  This juice had bite.  So be sure to taste this before you serve over the hot chicken.  My daughter was delighted with the taste of the sauce and her former pet rooster.  The circle of life was had this night!

March 30, 2016 | No comments

At Gulfwars XXV, I found a few small pamphlets of cooking recipes I liked.  The ones I had the most interest in were not as well documented as a one I had only a passing interest in but new a few people who would want more.  I started looking at the sources for the recipes going “I’ve got that one, and that one…Oh!  I don’t have this one!  I need to find it.”  Yeah.  De Nola’s book has one found translation and it’s only on line (That I can find).

The recipes are interesting including the use of cat fat as a way to reduce asthma…  I don’t ask I just find.  Nope, not going to make this recipe…just no.  The more useful find is that this book is the first and only book I have found that actually lists orange water.  I have not found any other listings in period cookbooks with this.  So this is a pretty big thing for period cooking!

Here is the link for those interested.  http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-MANUSCRIPTS/Guisados2-art.html

March 20, 2016 | No comments

So when I started this project, I thought the worst thing was going to be to grind the fat. I was sooo wrong. That was actually one of the easiest. The second worst thing about making sausages is cleaning the equipment. Everything is stuck with ground meat that wants to cling…like an ex you just want to get rid of 2 weeks ago. The absolutely worst part? Getting the meat to get into the casing. It’s like stuffing an extra-large man into an extra small condom. It’s a real bitch and no one’s happy. The meat is yummy the sausages look horrible but are tasty. Not a complete loss but I’ll be taking my time doing this again.

Masir al-Dawwara (A Stuffed Sausage)

Currant 013

Finely chop red meat (lean) and chop as much alya (sheep’s tail fat). Finely chop fresh herbs, onion, and rue. (add to the meat) then pound the meat mixture with a knife until it has the consistency of ointment. Add cassia, black pepper, caraway, ma kamakh (liquid fermented sauce), a little vinegar, and olive oil. Kneed the mixture very well and stuff it into a large intestine with the fat adhering to it. Also stuff with some small intestines. Cook them with whatever dish you prefer, God willing. (al-Warraq, pp. 187)

2 lbs. ground meat
1 lb. beef fat
1 tsp. ea. Ground cassia, black pepper, caraway
2 tbs. vinegar
1 tbs. fish sauce
1/4 C olive oil.
1 onion (chopped)
Warning now…this gets messy.  Really  messy!  Grind up the fat and combine with the meat.

Currant 001

Chop your onion and add this to the meat. Do NOT add rue. Some people have a reaction to rue that most have to poison ivy. Baaaad juju! No rue!


Currant 006

Next add your spices and liquid ingredients.


Currant 007

Combine well. Set up your intestine and stuff.

Currant 009


Here I use lamb intestine (not pork for obvious reasons).

Currant 010

Start your stuffing and telling dirty jokes!  This part really doesn’t have any good pictures just less dirty innuendo pictures.

Currant 012

This recipe seems to think the sausage can be served in a dish or as a side dish. Cook whichever way is good and serve.

Currant 013These were eaten as is.  I am going to suggest (as usual) playing with the recipe.  I found these a little dry so would probably add more fat and/or liquid but not more fish sauce.   Perhaps a good red wine but definitly more fat!

March 8, 2016 | No comments

Ok, so this wasn’t my most sought after posting.  I mean really, who other than a serious foodie eats head cheese these days?  However, like many things medieval, head cheese was popular and fairly tasty.  Period head cheese is sweeter than the modern savory but that’s more of a taste thing.


final head cheese pics 002

Head cheese.

To prepare jelly from pigs’ snouts, ears and feet.


Scappi mentions jelly made from pig in two sections. The second sections (#243 from Book II) goes into greater detail than the recipe from (#97 from Book II).

Get twenty pigs’ feet, six pounds of fresh pork rinds with the fat off, four snouts and four ears; was and clean everything. Boil it in a cooking pot with eight liters of white wine, eight of water and one and a third, more or less, at your discretion of vinegar. When you have skimmed it with a wooden spoon, put in a little salt, an ounce of crushed pepper, an ounce of cinnamon, an ounce of ginger and two nutmegs. Boil it all together. When the ears and snouts are a little less than done, take them out and finish cooking them in another pot with wine vinegar, pepper and enough salt, so they’ll be more tasty. When the decoction is cooked, do the test described in the previous recipes. Skim off all the fat with a wooden spoon and strain the decoction. When that is done, put in two and a half pounds of sugar, half a pound of firm honey and eight well beaten egg whites bringing it all to a boil as in the previous recipes and then putting it through a bag. When it has been strained, have the ears and snouts already split in two and arrange them carefully in dishes the bottoms of which are covered with three fingers of set jelly; then fill up the dishes with cold jelly so that the ears and snouts are held between the two jellies In the interval between jellies, with the ears and snouts you can put the feet, which have been cooked separately from the jelly in the same way as the snouts and ears are cooked. It has to be a deep dish or else use an earthenware baking dish or a shallow basin. When the jelly has set and is firm and you want to take it out of the pot, warm the pot in hot water so the jelly warms then quickly flip it over into a dish. Large or small depending on the depth of the jelly, because that way the jelly will rise up above the dish. If the inside, by the ears and snouts, you would like to put cleaned almonds, that is optional. For decoration around the dish put bay leaves. That jelly needs to be somewhat acidic and give it a tang with spices.

(Scappi, pp. 260/Book II. Rcp #242)


1 or 1/2 pig head

1 trotter

2 tsp ground pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger

1/2 gallon wine

8 cups water

1 1/2 C vinegar

1 tsp salt


2nd cooking

4 tbs sugar

4 tbs honey

1 C broth from above



As you can tell I didn’t use 20 pigs feet. Just wasn’t going to happen. Not enough room in any of my pots or at the market. So I improvised. I used half a pigs head and scaled down from there. There is NO way I would ever have enough need for a full head (or 20 feet) of jellied pig meat unless serving a whole bunch of head cheese at a feast.

Roast pig and other 025Here is half of Wilbur’s head, cleaned and ready to go!

Roast pig and other 027

Take the cleaned pig’s head and put in a pot with your wine (I had to use mead because one bottle of wine was just not going to be enough).

Roast pig and other 029Yes you leave the eye, ear and tongue in…It just is.

Add your water and vinegar than add the spices. Let the head cook for a few hours till the meat is ready to start falling off the head. This takes about 2 to 2.5 hours. The head was still frozen when I put it in the pot and the meat was pealing from the bone at 2.5 hours. Skim the fat off the broth every hour or so.


Roast pig and other 051

Once the meat is ready to fall off the head, pull the head out and pull off the meat. Put the head bone back into the original broth and cook down. Here I used a slow cooker overnight set on low. Put the meat in a pot with the sugar and honey for the second part.

When the meat has cooled slice it into bit sized chunks, slicing the ears into strips.

Roast pig and other 056

I had to improvise at this point. The ears were indistinguishable from the other bits of meat and skin. I didn’t have the foresight to keep track of the ear before peeling off the meat.

I took the fat from the cheek and blended it smooooooooth like butter in the Cuisinart. For a more period feel, use a mortar and pestle…it’ll take about an hour.

Roast pig and other 059


The cheek meat went into the bowl with the other bits and pieces.

Roast pig and other 057

The sugar and honey were added.

Roast pig and other 058

I didn’t use the table sugar (I’m out) so used brown sugar. Don’t worry you can play around a little with the taste and what you prefer so don’t fear making small alterations! The meat was originally supposed to cook a little more; however I ran out of time and had to put the meat into the fridge overnight. Mix everything together.

Roast pig and other 061

It looks horrible but tastes great.

So this is where things get interesting.  The trotter is used not only for the meat and fat but for the gelatin it produces when boiled.  That clear gel seen when you’ve cooked chicken or pork on the under side where the juice sat…that’s what we want.  The pig trotter adds enough to make a jello of the meat. (hence the original recipe calling for 20 trotters…here we just need one).  If you have absolutely no chance of getting a trotter, you can use clear gelatin.

Roast pig and other 054The pan was oiled with walnut oil first before I added the broth.


Roast pig and other 062

Place cool jelly on the bottom of the pan,

Roast pig and other 064

then the bits of meat with another layer of cooling jelly.

Roast pig and other 065


Let the jellies cool until solid.


final head cheese pics 001If you’ll notice my head cheese has a much darker color than the more modern head cheese available in the deli’s these days.  I used a red wine vinegar and brown sugar which gave the entire dish a deep caramel color.  The taste is still excellent however the coloring in tune with the ingredients used.

Serve with bread or crackers.

final head cheese pics 002I had pita bread on hand…and it was pretty damn good.  A bit sweet but as the cook I was expecting that.  Most people thing a meat gelatin to be savory so make sure that anyone who tastes realize they aren’t getting savory but a sweet meat dish.  Will help in the strange category.

February 28, 2016 | No comments

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