Pulpam Romanam
Spitted and roasted veal with spices - contributed by Gaylin J. Walli

Original recipe from De honesta voluptate:

On Meat, Roman Style. Cut veal into pieces not larger than an egg so that no piece is completely cut from another, and sprinkle at once with salt and coriander or ground fennel. When they are sprinkled, press a little between two boards. When a spit has been passed through them, turn them over the fire until they are cooked, with a chunk of lard so they do not touch and do not dry out too much. Turn them over the fire until they are cooked. This is of great and easy nourishment, but it is digested slowly and constipates the bowels. (Milham, 279)

Modern recipe: Spitted and Roasted Veal with Spices

For 160:

  • 1 1/4 quarts olive oil 
  • 3 1/3 tablespoons salt 
  • 3/8 cup dried coriander, ground
  • 3 1/3 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 3 1/3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 60 pounds veal 
  • 160 wooden skewers
For 8:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander, ground 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds veal
  • 8 wooden skewers
Excluding the meat, mix all the ingredients for a marinade. Cut the meat into cubes weighing roughly 2 oz. each. Marinate the meat for at least 2 1/2 hours, preferably overnight. Remove the meat from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and skewer three pieces per skewer. Roast the skewers on a grill at high heat or broil on high for approximately 15 minutes, basting every 5 minutes with the reserved marinade.

Per serving nutritional information:

229 Calories; 15g Fat (59% calories from fat); 23g Protein; 0g Carbohydrate; 96mg Cholesterol; 230mg Sodium

Notes on the recipe:

A straightforward near substitute for a meat-only shishkabob might describe this dish. Veal is cut into small chunks still somewhat attached to one another, sprinkled immediately with spices, skewered, and roasted. During the roasting they are somehow moistened with lard to prevent the young meat from drying out, though the recipe does not say exactly how (only that they are roasted with lard). They are cooked to doneness while rotating on their spit.

We were lucky to have access to freshly butchered meat for this feast, thus using 100% veal for the recipe. If the feast budget will not allow the purchase of large amounts of this normally pricey meat, consider using a combination of veal and pork. In southwestern Michigan, you can often find the two already combined on wooden skewers at the butcher's counter of many grocery stores. Look for it under the name "city chicken." If you make this substitution, remember to check the cooking time of the meat to ensure the pork is cooked through.

Additional notes on this recipe may be found at: The Coronation Feast of Dag IV & Elayna II


Milham, Mary Ella. Platina's On Right Pleasure and Good Health. University of North Carolina at Asheville: Pegasus Press, 1999. ISBN: 0866982086.

Metric, Celsius, & Gas Mark Equivalencies

Gaylin Walli is a technical writer and editor for a multinational software company. She spends the vast majority of her personal time researching things because her friends (and people throughout the known world) torture her with comments like "Do you know anything about..."

A Boke of Gode CookeryThe Historical Cookery Page

Pulpam Romanam © 2000 Gaylin J. Walli | This page © 2000 James L. Matterer

The Historical Cookery Page

Please visit The Gode Cookery Bookshop | This site hosted by Visual Presence