Ham in Pastry – A Recipe of Ancient Rome


This past summer, I participated in a graduate course on Roman Society & Culture at Fitchburg State University.  I selected this class in particular because the description mentioned exploring the topics of food during the Ancient Roman period.

Ham in Pasrty 

The recipe I selected for our final class of the week was a delectable Ham in Pastry.  The original recipe offers limited instruction, as do many “cookbooks” of early history.  I used my expertise to analyze the recipe and create what I believe is an accurate representation of Apicius’ vision. 

A Taste OF Ancient Rome.

The recipe originates from the works of Apicius, the oldest know recipes to have survived the period of antiquity. Marcus Gavius Apicius was the original “foodie” and collected detailed receipts of Roman cuisine, presented in categories with elaborate preparations.  

Simmering the scored ham in Italian red wine and Olympians white figs from Greece. 

The preparation was complex, although a labor of love. While the ham simmered with the red wine, bay leaves, and figs for about an hour I prepared the pastry crust.  

High gluten flour, salt and olive oil. 
Completed dough paste. 

The dough while light and tasty is merely a vessel to protect the moisture of the ham.  The mixture of flour, salt and olive oil is quite crumbly yet adheres well to the surface of the ham. 

Ham and figs after one hour simmering. 
Figs stuffed in the score marks and glazed with honey. 
Stuffed and glazed hams covered in the pastry crust with bay leaf embellishments. 

The hams were removed from the wine bath, stuffed with the bribed figs, and then generously glazed with local honey. The crust must be molded to the ham and sealed at the bottom to encase the moisture.  Bake until golden brown, cool to room temperature and serve. 

Recipe source:  A Taste of Ancient Rome by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa. 

©Susan Brassard, chef411@wordpress.com, November 18, 2018