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History Cookbook: Pumpes (Meat Balls)

This recipe is in categories Normans / Medieval, Main courses, Picnic
About this recipe
Healthiness : (248 votes)
Comments: Take care when putting the meatballs into boiling water (if you choose this option). Use a slotted spoon to avoid scalding yourself.
Preparation Time: 5 -10 mins
Cooking Time: 15 - 20 mins
Number of servings: Makes around 20 meatballs.
Serving suggestions: Serve with seasonal vegetables.

This is the original recipe:

'Take fayre buttys of vele and hewe hem,and grnd hem,and wyth eyroun(eggs); caste powder pepyr, gyngere, safroun, galingal and herbes also raysonys of coraunce. Sethe in a pan wyth fayre water. Than putte it on a spete round and lete hem rosty. Serve hem forth.' Pommeaulx (abridged)

There are many versions of these meatballs, some contain fruit, others almonds and a variety of herbs and spices. Original medieval recipes do not contain measurements and skilled cooks judged amounts by eye.

Meat dishes were spiced and often served with fruit. (Serving pork with apple or lamb with redcurrant jelly originates from this tradition.) Spices were expensive but very popular in the medieval diet. Many people have said this was to hide the taste of bad meat. Modern scholars do not believe this, eating bad meat would make you sick.

Using spices reflected your wealth and status and demonstrated the skill of your cooking staff. Galingale is a little like ginger but far more fragrant. It is worth using if you can get some.
  • 2 lbs ground meat (veal, pork, lamb or a combination)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp galingale, ginger and mace (if you omit the galingale, increase the amount of ginger used.
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon and cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
Variation: add 3 handfuls of currants and black pepper to the meat.
  • Teaspoon
  • Whisk
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Frying pan or saucepan
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. Place the ground meat in a pan or bowl
  2. Slightly beat two eggs and add to the meat
  3. Add the salt, spices and chopped parsley to the meat
  4. Mix well so the egg and spices are evenly dispersed throughout the meat
  5. Shape the meat into balls, 2" or 5cm diameter
  6. EITHER part boil in water for 5 minutes and then grill until browned OR fry in a shallow pan, turning 2 or 3 times.
  7. Serve hot. (These are also very good cold.)
Pumpes (Meat Balls) - print view  Pumpes (Meat Balls) - print view

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