Harleian MS. 279 (ab. 1430) - Pompys - Meatballs in Almond Milk Gravy

A dish of Pumpes, flavorful and tender meatballs in a gravy made from broth, almond milk and spices. 
There has been a bit of upheaval in the house the past two weeks. In addition to cooking a fund raiser lunch for Collegium this past weekend, we redid the floors in the living room and foyer and starting in early March, the kitchen will be under renovation as well.  It may be a few weeks before I post another post.  My efforts though, may turn from the pottages section of Harliean MS 279, and move to the Dyverse Bake Metis (Baked dishes) or Leche Vyaundez (Sliced Dishes) as the adventures might continue with a roasting pan and crockpots! Keep an eye out. 

The most recent adventure focused on the very last pottage recipe, pompys.  This recipe created a very flavorful dish of meatballs in gravy made from broth, almond milk and rice flour.  I love meatballs.  I think they are one of the most versatile foods created, you can use them in almost anything and with the addition of rice, bulgur, bread, etc. you can extend your meat.

There are references to dishes made of shaped ground meat patties in Apicius. They are also referenced in some of the earliest Arabic cookbooks, and there is some speculation that China can trace the history of shaped ground meat patties to the Qin Dynasty (221 BC to 207 BC). It is possible that meatballs originated in Persia and are still eaten today as koofteh.

I hope you try this recipe and that you enjoy it as much as my taste testers and I did.  The original source of the recpe can be found  at Two fifteenth-century cookery-books. Harleian ms. 279 (ab. 1430), & Harl. ms. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole ms. 1429, Laud ms. 553, & Douce ms. 55" Thomas Austin

.Cliij. Pompys. — Take Beef, Porke, or Vele, on of hem, & raw, alle to-choppe it atte J;e dressoure, J^an grynd hem in a raorter as smal as ])0u may, J^an caste ])er-to Raw plkys of Eyrou?i, wyn, an a lytil whyte [sugre] : caste also ]7er-to ponder Pepyi-, & Macys, Clowes, Quybibys, ponder Canelle, Synamouii), & Salt, & a lytil Safroun ; ]>eu take & make smale Pelettys round y-now, & loke ]>at J>on haue a fayre potte of Freysshe brojie of bef or of Capoun, & euer j^row hem ]7er-on & lete hem sethe tyl J»at ]>ej ben y-now ; ]7en take & draw vppe a jryfty mylke of Almaundys, w/tA cold freysshe brojje of Bef, Vele, Motou), oj^er Capo«n, & a-lye it with floure of Eys & we'tA Spycerye; & atte J^e dressoure ley J7es pelettys .v. or .vj. in a dysshe, & J^en pore ]>m sewe aneward,^ & seme in, or ellys make a gode Jjryfty Syryppe & ley pin- pelettys atte j>e dressoure fcr-on, & ]>at is gode Berujse.^

Dan Myers has done an excellent job of interpreting the recipe and creating an easier to read version at his site Medieval Cookery.  Please click the link below to access his site.

Cliij - Pompys. Take Beef, Porke, or Vele, on of hem, and raw, alle to-choppe it atte the dressoure, than grynd hem in a morter as smal as thou may, than caste ther-to Raw 3olkys of Eyroun, wyn, an a lytil whyte sugre: caste also ther-to pouder Pepyr, and Macys, Clowes, Quybibys, pouder Canelle, Synamoun, and Salt, and a lytil Safroun; then take and make smale Pelettys round y-now, and loke that thou haue a fayre potte of Freysshe brothe of bef or of Capoun, and euer throw hem ther-on and lete hem sethe tyl that they ben y-now; then take and draw vppe a thryfty mylke of Almaundys, with cold freysshe brothe of Bef, Vele, Moton, other Capoun, and a-lye it with floure of Rys and with Spycerye; and atte the dressoure ley thes pelettys .v. or .vj. in a dysshe, and then pore thin sewe aneward, (Note: on it) and serue in, or ellys make a gode thryfty Syryppe and ley thin (Note: Thine) pelettys atte the dressoure ther-on, and that is gode seruyse. (Note: four blank pages follow)

153. Pumpes - Take beef, pork or veal, one of them and raw, all together chop it then grind them in a mortar as small as you may, then cast thereto raw yolks of eggs, wine, and a little white sugar: caste also thereto powder pepper and mace, cloves, cubebs, powder cinnamon and salt and a little saffron; then take and make small pellets round enough, and look that you have a fair pot of fresh broth of beef or of capon and ever throw them thereon and let them seethe till they be enough; then take and draw up a thrifty milk of almonds, with cold fresh broth of beef, veal, mutton or capon, and thicken it with rice flour and with spices; and at the table, lay the pellets five or six in a dish and then pour the syrup on it and serve it, or else, make a good syrup and lay the pellet thereon and good service.

Interpreted Recipe                                                        Serves 1 as a main, two as a side

1/4 pound ground meat (veal, pork, beef or a mix)
1 egg  yolk
1 tbsp. wine (I used white)
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. each mace, cloves, cubebs, saffron
1/4 tsp. cinnamon and pepper
salt to taste
2 cups broth (chicken, beef, or a 50/50 mix)
1 cup almond milk (I used the quick almond milk recipe subbing a 50% mix of broth for water)
2-3 tbsp. rice flour
1/8 tsp. each mace cloves, cubeb, saffron
1/4 tsp. cinnamon and pepper
salt to taste

Mix the ground meat with the egg yolk, wine, sugar and spices and form into bite sized balls.  Bring the broth to a simmer and add your meatballs.  Cook till they have been thoroughly cooked.

Remove the meatballs from the broth and make your almond milk using the broth you cooked your meatballs in.  Heat your almond milk to a simmer and add the rice flour and spices.  Cook your broth until it comes to your desired thickness. You may want to strain your broth before serving because the rice flour may clump.

Add several meatballs to your bowl and pour the almond milk broth over them.

These are delicious, and definitely will be making an appearance at a future event.  These are very easy to make, and can be made ahead of an event, frozen and thawed the day of.  They were a big hit at the house and the taste testers scarfed them all up and drank down the broth.  I think they would have licked the bowl clean if they could have gotten away with it!