I was in the mood to try a little bit of Roman again. I haven’t had a good wine and pork dish for a bit so turned to my trusted Roman books for inspiration. And look! We have a yummy tasty pork dish ready for the first days of spring and those first few blushing bulbs of fennel, not to mention a way to use all those bits of left over red wine from our dark cold Ansteorran winters.
Pork in a red wine and fennel sauce
Cured meat or slices of ham, similarly raw meat: first the cured meat is boiled a little just to take away its saltiness. Then put tall these ingredients into a pan: four parts of wine, two parts of grape syrup, one part of wine vinegar, dry coriander, thyme, dill, fennel. Fry after putting everything in together at the start, then boil. Half-way through the cooking some people add honey and ground cumin, others pepper, and after putting the sauce into a warmed pt they add little pieces of hot loin and bread. (Heidelberg papyrus)
(Grant, pp. 124-125)
2lbs of cured ham or raw pork
1 pint red wine
½ cup grape syrup or Sapa
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp dry coriander
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp dill
¼ C fennel (roughly ½ a fennel bulb)
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp pepper
¼ C bread crumbs or 1 slice of bread
Gather together all your ingredients.
If using cured meat, boil for about 3 minutes till the saltiness is gone and drain. If using fresh, cut into bite sized pieces.
Combine all the first round of ingredients into a pot. Here I did things slightly different. I used fresh thyme and dill from my garden roughly chopped.
Instead of using grape syrup or Sapa, I used port. I like sweet wine so had some on hand. I used balsamic vinegar as my vinegar, again as it was on hand.
I combined the wines and vinegar together, then all the spices.
At this point I put the lid on to the clay pot and placed in the oven for about an hour at 350.
If I had boiled the meat and sauce together in a pot, the remaining liquid would have thickened up and I would have then removed the meat cubes and used the sauce on the side. What I wanted was slow cooked pork in wine and spice, with out a sauce.
So after removing the liquid from the clay pot, I took the remaining sauce which had not reduced much at all an, and placed into a regular cooking pot.
You want to boil this till the sauce has reduced by about half, forming a nice thick red wine and fennel sauce. I can’t show you this as I left my pot boiling and ended up with a sticky burnt sauce. I was very sad at this. The pork was excellent with out the sauce but I’m sure the sauce would have added a sweet tangy tastiness.
So, if you want a thick sauce on the side you can cook everything together then boil the remaining liquid into a sauce or just boil everything together and let the sauce reduce that way. Roman cooking lets you experiment with many different options and ways. Do not think that just one way is the only way!