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Kitchen, 50 Rms.; Castle, Adj.

October 15, 1992|NATHALIE DUPREE | Dupree is the author of several cookbooks

I have long been a "royal watcher," one of those who secretly yearns to know about the doings of royalty, preferably English royalty. But unlike those who favor gossip about Di and Fergie, I own up to an inordinate curiosity about Henry VIII and his many wives. Perhaps it's because I am consumed with love for food, and I think, in my heart of hearts, that Henry VIII loved it as much as I do.

Certainly my most recent trip to England did nothing to dissuade me of this infatuation for the Tudors in general and Henry VIII in particular. On that trip I returned to Henry's one-time home, Hampton Court, which I have visited a few times during its restoration over the last several years.

Hampton Court was devastated by fire in 1986, and I was delighted to be there recently when Queen Elizabeth reopened the palace's damaged parts to the public. Touring King William III's private apartments gave me ample opportunity to see his private dining room and a glimpse through a window of the famed "chocolate room," which only whetted my appetite to see the older part of the palace, including the kitchens, which fed 1,200 people in the winters of Henry VIII.

I was entranced by the kitchen--if that is really what you call a food preparation area with more than 36,000 square feet spread over 50 rooms. Through this series of rooms we worked our way to the Boiling House with its huge copper boiler, capable of holding 76 gallons, and a staircase that enabled cooks to reach the boiling broth and add huge new joints of meat.

Most glorious of all was the pig roasting over the open fireplace. Perhaps it captivated me because nearly 30 years ago I tried to cook a pig in my fireplace. I ended up with fat spurting onto the logs and smoke mingling with the flames. There at Hampton Court was my answer. Rather than being held directly over the flames, the pig was attached to a rack on the exterior walls of the brick fireplace. The pig was being cooked by the radiant heat of the fireplace bricks, not the flames itself. It's obvious once you see it.

This pig isn't cooked in the fireplace--or beside the fireplace--but it is authentic to the period, coming from "The Tudor Kitchens Cookery Book," which is available at the palace. It has been adapted by Roz Denny for modern use.

ROAST PORK WITH RAISIN-ROSEMARY STUFFING

1 cup fresh white bread crumbs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

3 ounces raisins

2 egg yolks

7 ounces whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground mace

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 (4-pound) tunnel-boned shoulder or small leg of pork, rind removed

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Generous dash saffron strands, crushed

Mix 1/2 cup bread crumbs with rosemary, raisins, egg yolks, 1/2 cup cream, nutmeg, mace and season to taste liberally with salt and pepper. Spoon into boned pork from both ends of joint, pressing in well with back of spoon. Using trussing needle and kitchen string, stitch up both ends of tunnel. Tie joint with string. Roast at 350 degrees 30 minutes per pound.

Mix remaining bread crumbs and cream with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, saffron. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove roast from oven and press bread crumb-cream mixture on top of meat, using wet fingers if necessary. Return to oven and roast another 30 minutes. Allow roast to stand 15 minutes before carving to let meat and stuffing set. Use pan juices for sauce. Makes 6 servings.

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