Roman-Style Tenderloin, with bacon and sage



It’s another virtual potluck, AND a recipe from one of my favorite medieval cookbooks, The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi.  It reminds me of a Turkish dish I once had, called Çöp Şiş, where the meat on the kebab was spaced out with chunks of fat. It tasted amazing, and this is similar.

The bacon adds flavor to the tender beef. When I eat bacon, I like it like Tyrion: burnt and crispy, so in the future I would like to try using salt pork or some other type of cured pork. I used bay leaves, which imparted a great flavor, and I imagine sage would do likewise; I hope to try it in the near future… Yom. :)

This dish comes from Kate Quinn’s newest novel, the Lion and the Rose, the second in her series about the Borgias. Check out the other dishes in this virtual potluck below:

Roman-style Tenderloin Recipe

Get the leanest part of the tenderloin, with the bones, skin, and gristle removed, and cut it crosswise in six-ounce pieces, sprinkling them with ground salt and fennel flour or coriander ground with common spices. Into each piece, set four lardoons of marbled salt pork. Place them in a press with that mixture and a little rose vinegar and must syrup for three hours. Then mount them on a spit with a rasher of bacon and a sage or bay leaf between each piece; cook them over a moderate fire. When they are done, they need to be served hot, dressed with a sauce of their drippings together with the compound that exuded from them in the press, which sauce should be somewhat thick and saffron-coloured. -The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi

  • 2 beef tenderloins, of hefty thickness
  • bacon or salt pork, cut into squares
  • 1/2 cup must syrup, or grape juice
  • 1/4 cup rose vinegar
  • sage or bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. fennel pollen
  • hefty pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Cut the tenderloin into large chunks. Place these in a deep dish, then pour the must syrup/grape juice, the vinegar, and the spices over. Press the meat down, and let marinate for several hours. Then, slide the meat onto long skewers, adding bacon and sage or bay leaves intermittently. Broil on low for just long enough for the meat to be done, turning once in the middle, about 15 minutes. Cover to keep warm, and cook the drippings and the marinade until it thickens.

9 thoughts on “Roman-Style Tenderloin, with bacon and sage”

  1. Deana@lostpastremembered says:

    Well done. I loved Scappi’s tenderloin with cherries — he has a way with meat. BTW, you can buy must syrup in middle-eastern stores… it’s kind of like pomegranate molasses and very good.
    I do love the idea of pressing the meat together to form a block so the meat won’t over cook. Scappi was very bright, wasn’t he? Great to join you at the virtual blogger’s banquet again!

  2. Kate Quinn says:

    The combination of bacon (or pancetta, or prosciutto) and sage and meat is really like a skewer version of saltimbocca, isn’t it? This version looks absolutely delicious – and those skewers are beautiful! Thanks so much for joining on this, Chelsea!

  3. Heather Webb says:

    I need to get Scappi’s cookbook after reading the book and salivating over all of the wonderful recipes. This sounds sooo good.

  4. Taking On Magazines says:

    Oh my goodness! Those skewers look amazing. I like the idea of the bay leaves, but think you’re right; the sage would also be fantastic. It looks delicious.

  5. Theresa says:

    Hand me a couple of those skewers…they look delicious!

  6. A_Boleyn says:

    I don’t know why everything tastes better when you put it on a stick and char it a bit. :)

  7. Anna Tice says:

    If you want really crispy bacon, try running cold water over it and dry it before cooking. I do that to my husbands bacon.

  8. Angela Whiting says:

    Hello This recipe looks AMAZING.. however, Are they’re any substitutes for must syrup and the rose vingar. I think it would be difficult for me to locate these items.. if there any substitutes that would work great, i’d be much obliged.

  9. LadybugJess says:

    I thought the same thing, but then I turned to my good ol pal Amazon and was able to find them quite easily. I think I might also try to hit up my local liquor pavillion for rose vinegar – They have it on Amazon but it looks a bit pricey…

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