Pumpes {decorated meatballs}

Pumpes {decorated meatballs}

Here’s one 15th century dish that probably graced the Court banquets of flamboyant Richard II. This guy was all about the glitz. Bejewelled and embroidered outfits, even a bit of fur. On the dining table much of the food was tinted gold with saffron, made into patterns or sprinkled with flowers to reflect his luxurious extravagance, wealth and regality. I guess if you’ve got it, flaunt it!

This recipe is taken from the Harleian Manuscripts, in particular the Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books bought and archived by Robert Harley and his son Edward in the 1600/1700’s.

The texture of these meatballs resembles a terrine with a very distinctive clove and mace flavour, and personally I couldn’t eat too many of them. I guess when it originally joined a procession of dishes like a cokentrys (½ piglet ½ capon) you’re only meant to have a few.

Pumpes recipe

Pumpes recipe

pumpes {decorated meatballs}


“Pumpes. Take an sethe a gode gobet of Porke, & not to lene, as tendyr as thou may; than take hem vppe & choppe hem as smal as thou may; than take clowes & Maces, & choppe forth with-alle, & Also choppe forth with Roysonys of coraunce; than take hem & rolle hem as round as thou may, lyke to smale pelettys, a inches a-bowte, than ley hem on a dysshe be hem selue; than make a gode almaunde mylke, & a lye it with floure of Rys, & lat it boyle wyl, but loke that it be clene rennyng; & at the dressoure, ley v pompys in a dysshe, & pore thin potage ther-on. An if thou wolt, sette on euery pompe a flos campy flour, & a-boue straw on Sugre y-now, & Maces: & serue hem forth. And sum men make the pellettys of vele or Beeff, but porke ys beste & fayrest.”

  • 600 lean pork meat
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • 125 g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp rice flour
  • 1 tbsp currants
  • ¼ tsbp ground mace
  • 3 cloves, ground
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • White sugar, ground mace and small colourful flowers, to garnish


Place the pork in a small saucepan and pour in the beef stock. Bring to the boil and allow to gently simmer until just cooked through. Remove the meat and set the stock aside to cool.

Meanwhile make some almond milk by pouring 270 ml of the warm stock over the gound almonds. Allow to stand for 10 minutes or so then pass through a fine strainer, pressing all of the liquid out. Discard the almond solids. Add the rice flour to the almond milk, stir well to dissolve and set aside. The consistency should be a little thinner than regular pouring cream.

Cut the pork into slices and process along with the currants, ground mace, cloves, salt and pepper. Form the mixture into tablespoon-sized balls and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and lightly brown the meatballs.

Arrange the meatballs on a plate, coat each one with some of the almond milk and sprinkle over the sugar, ground mace and fresh flowers.

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