Alloes of Beef

To make Alloes of beef
Take lene beef and cut hym in thyn pecys and lay hit on A borde then take sewet of motton or of beef and herbys and onyons hackyd small to gether then straw thy leshes of beef with powder of pepur and a lytell salt and strew on thy sewet and the herbys. And rolle them up ther yn put them on a broche and roste them and serue them up hote.
Gentyll manly Cokere (MS Pepys 1047, c.1500)

To make rolls of beef.
Take lean beef and cut him in thin pieces and lay it on a board. Then take suet of mutton or of beef and herbs and onions hacked small together. Then strew thy slices of beef with powder of pepper and a little salt and strew on your suet and the herbs. And roll them up there in, put them on a spit and roast them and serve them up hot.

Alloes, or “olives”, are tasty morsels of rolled, stuffed meat, similar to Italian Saltimbocca, except they are generally roasted. I am aware of recipes going back to the 14th century in England – a long lived recipe. When you taste them, you’ll see why!


500g thin sliced steak 1 tbs thyme leaves
60g suet 2 tbs parsley
1 medium white onion ½ tsp pepper
1 tbs sage leaves 1tsp salt
Optional: 60g dates Optional: 60g currants


  1. Finely grate the suet and onion. This is best done with a food processor as the suet will melt if you try to do it by hand.
  2. Finely chop the herbs, and mix with the suet, onion, salt and pepper to form a paste.
  3. If using, add the finely chopped dates and currants to the mix as well.
  4. Smear each steak with the paste and roll lengthways. Tie the roll with string, or secure the roll with toothpicks, and place on a skewer.
  5. Balance the skewer over a roasting tray to imitate a spit roast, then roast in a 180° oven until they are cooked through(approx. 15-20min).
  6. While the alloes are roasting, baste them with the pan juices and if possible turn them. Baste them again when they are finished cooking.
  7. To serve, untie each beef roll, and cut into 3 pieces.


  • Suet is the hard fat that surrounds the internal organs of animals. It is possible to buy “suet mix” in supermarkets, but this is a mix of flour, other fats and preservatives as well as suet (not much). You can generally pick up suet really cheaply from butchers – sometimes even for free. It can be a pain to work with as it melts quickly, but the end result is worth it.
  • The original recipe, as you will see, contains no dried fruit. When we tested these, I was reading another recipe and added the dried fruit by mistake. By the time we discovered the mistake it was too late to get the dried fruit out of the mix, so we left it. It was one of the most fortuitous cooking mistakes I’ve ever made, as they tasted really good, and dried fruit was often added to meat recipes, so alloes containing dried fruit are conjecturally period.
  • It may seem odd to spit roast something so small. However household inventories of the period did include spits of varying thicknesses, to roast different foods. (Brears, 2015, 327-333).
  • Tootpicks are easier to use to secure the rolls of beef. However, tying the rolls with string was probably the period practice, as toothpicks were expensive luxuries, often imported. (Goodman, 2016, 35).


Further Reading

Brears, Peter. Cooking and Dining in Tudor and Early Stuart England. Totnes, 2015.
Goodman, Ruth. How to Be a Tudor. Harmondsworth, 2016.

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