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Richard III

Working On a Hunch

Shakespeare offers up a pretty good menu through the mouth of Richmond, who says of King Richard at V.2.7:

The wretched, bloody, and usurping boar
That spoiled your summer fields and fruitful vines
Swills your warm blood like wash, and makes his trough
In your embowelled bosoms—this foul swine
Is now even in the center of this isle.

My entire menu for this play derives from these lines.

Strawberries on windowwsill in deep forcusThe main course is a pork shoulder roast representing the hunchbacked bloody boar, infused and marinated with Madiera wine (from the “malmsey butt” the murderers used to drown Clarence at I.4.251) and served with a raspberry sauce (“warm blood”). On the side, the “summer fields” are represented by cooked apples and the “swill” by steamed carrots.

We'll have “emboweled bosoms” for the starter: a plate of cheese, preferably double Gloucester cheese, in honor of the Duke of Gloucester, and Leicester cheese, in honor of Bosworth Field. The dessert (“fruitful vines”) is the strawberries that Richard himself requested from the Bishop of Ely's garden (III.4.31), served whole with cream as the British do.

To carry the meal's pertinence further, serve with wine in bowl-shaped glasses (Richard calls for a “bowl of wine” on the eve of the battle at V.3.66) and eat at 9 p.m., the time mentioned for dinner by Richard's aide at Bosworth (V.3.49).

Because this is so thoroughly an English play, and many of the scenes take place first thing in the morning, my other meal is a traditional English breakfast featuring fried eggs on fried toast along with bacon, sausage, mushrooms, and baked beans. Yes, all you U-S-of-Aers, baked beans. Serve with a cuppa: English Breakfast tea with milk or, better yet, Yorkshire Tea or Twinings' Prince of Wales blend.

From one cook to another
The original warm blood recipe used red currant preserve, but I could not find any when I recently prepared this dish, so I switched to fresh raspberries. That tasted good, but, as Sarah pointed out, blood doesn't contain seeds, and straining the crushed raspberries was too much of a hassle. So I switched to raspberry jam, which not only had the proper amount of sugar and thickening properties already, it tasted best of all.

Eric Minton
October 1, 2011

Usurping Boar

Pork Shoulder Roast
Madeira wine

Inject the pork with Madeira wine, pour a bit more wine over the roast and marinate a few hours.

Preheat the oven at 450. Place the roast fat side up on a rack in the roasting pan, pour the Madeira from the marinade dish over the roast, and sprinkle salt and ground pepper over the top. Pour a cup of water into the bottom of the pan.

Roast the pork at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 325 and continue roasting for 25 minutes per pound. The meat is done when a meat thermometer plunged into the meat near the bone registers 160 degrees.

Warm Blood

12 ounces seedless raspberry jam
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon Madeira
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Place the jam in a saucepan and, over medium-high heat, stir in the half-cup of Madeira, the orange juice, and the ginger. Bring to a light boil. Lower the heat and simmer—you'll want the sauce to be lump-free.

Just before serving, stir the cornstarch into the tablespoon of Madeira, raise the temperature to bring the sauce to a light boil, stir in the cornstarch mix to thicken only slightly—you'll want it to resemble uncoagulated blood.

Serve in a gravy boat or bowl alongside the pork, to be offered for individual diners.

If there are any leftovers, you can combine the sauce with the pan drippings. This makes for a richer though less-sweet sauce (in fact, Sarah preferred the sauce with the drippings over the original). It looses the bloody color, but, in fact, resembles old, coagulated blood, which is appropriate for leftovers, I guess.

Summer Fields

6 apples
4 tablespoons butter
Brown sugar

Peel, core, and slice the apples in wedges. Place in a casserole bowl. Place dabs of butter on the apples. Sprinkle on brown sugar. Cover and cook for 1 hour, while the pork is cooking. Halfway through cooking, take the apples out, stir, and add more butter and brown sugar if desired.


1 pound baby carrots
1 tablespoon Chervil

Put carrots in a bowl, add a dab of water (for easier mixing), and sprinkle on chervil. Stir it all around to evenly distribute the chervil. Steam the carrots about 10 minutes.

Embowelled Bosoms

Double Gloucester cheese
Leicester cheese
(If neither are available, choose any other English cheese)
Assorted British table crackers (Carr's and Jacobs are examples)
Branston Pickle (optional: you can find it in the international section)
Colman's Mustard (optional)

Slice the cheese. Serve on individual plates, with the crackers and Branston Pickle and mustard either sharing the plate or available in a basket and small serving dish, respectively.

Fruitful Vines

Fresh strawberries
Heavy cream

Rinse the strawberries and distribute into bowls whole. Pour the cream over the strawberries and serve.

English Breakfast

Bacon (the meatiest type available. Best varieties are from Denmark or Ireland, but use Canadian bacon or good market-brand if only North American choices are available)
Sausage, either links or patties
Baked beans
Bread, sliced (white bread is traditional)

Fry the bacon and the sausage to desired doneness.

Slice the mushrooms and sauté in butter until tender.

Heat the baked beans.

Butter both sides of the slices of bread; fry one side until crisp. Turn and fry the other side.

Melt butter in a skillet and pour in the eggs as if sunny-side up. Then place the pan under the broiler so that the top of the eggs broil as they fry. Cook to desired doneness.

Place fried bread on a plate, place the egg on top, spoon the mushrooms and beans to the side, add the bacon and sausage, pour a cuppa and serve.

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