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Pork with Pine Kernel Sauce

This recipe is in categories Main courses, Romano-British, Snacks, Soups and Sauces,
About this recipe:
Difficulty: 4

This recipe illustrates the Roman love of dishes that could be dipped into sauces. A vast array dishes could be served in bowls and platters. Meat would be carved into small pieces, so that each guest only picks what he needs and dips the meat into the accompanying sauces served in little bowls.
The recipe also shows the use of the type of utensils and cooking facilities used by the Romans.
The meat would be cooked over a raised brick hearth, on top of which was a charcoal fire. The meat was placed in a pan on a tripod placed over the fire or cooked directly on a gridon. Also used were frying pans (pensa), deeper pans (patella and patina), mixing bowls (mortaria) with a spout for pouring.

The recipe given here is not meant to be cooked in a modern kitchen, as it reflects the methods used in our podcast. Roman cooks judged quantities by eye so measurements are not given. Apicius provides the ingredients for the sauce, this then accompanies pan- fried meat.

For pictures of the cooking process see our Pork with Pine Nuts Picture Gallery

With thanks to Sally Granger and Butser Ancient Farm for their help with this podcast


Making and cooking it
  1. Dry fry the pine kernels on a medium heat
  2. Keep tossing and moving until they are lightly browned
  3. Set aside to cool
  4. In the same pan, dry roast cumin and celery seeds
  5. Grind in a mortar with plenty of pepper
  6. Put the herbs, saffron and pine kernels into the mortar and pound until they make a smooth paste
  7. Add the honey and oil and grind again
  8. Tip the mixture into a small pan and add the vinegar and fish sauce
  9. Cook the pork chops in frying pan, cooking slowly until done
  10. Remove from the heat and slice into strips to dip
  11. Blend the sauce until smooth and heat (the mixture should reach a clinging consistency)
  12. Adjust the flavours and add little wine if needed
  13. Serve as a dip with the sliced meat