When we visited Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury Massachusetts recently for a mini-family reunion and to learn more about the Howe family who built the Inn–my brother picked up a copy of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn Cookbook.
The book, like the Inn’s kitchen, makes no attempt to recreate the Howe Tavern food of the 18th and 19th century, but rather focuses on the more modern cuisine that draws crowds to the several dining rooms at today’s Wayside Inn.
The Old Kitchen at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn. Dining hearthside.
While we were there, we ate in the Main dining room, the small dining room, the Inn Keeper’s Room, and others. My favorite of all the dining spaces was “the Old Kitchen.” There you can sit near the fire and contemplate the labor involved in cooking over the open hearth. This contraption was meant to be wound up and then as it slowly unwound, it would turn a roast on a spit. The Inn has had to remove the handle because kids (and adults, too, we suspect) had a tendency to play with it.
The Old Kitchen Roast Turner
When my brother’s family delved into their new cookbook, and chose a roast pork recipe, they did not roast their pork over the hearth using a roast turner. But that might be a possibility. Since the recipe is copyrighted, we give you his notes. Consult your own, or your library’s copy for the entire instructions for making Pork with Maple-Bourbon Glaze.
Contributed by P.W. Kaser
Here are some personal notes on the Longfellow’s Wayside Inn Cookbook‘s roast pork recipe which is a version of what we call out here in the West “Drunken Pig.”
Maple-Bourbon Pork Glaze for the roast pork recipe requires 2 cups of water, 2 cups of sugar, one tablespoon of Vermont Maple syrup, one teaspoon of maple extract, a stingy one fourth cup of Bourbon, and one tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in cold water.
(Set enough Bourbon aside so guests can use it to toast the cook.)
Sugar and water are mixed and brought to a boil. Cornstarch is added for thickener and cooked for a few minutes. Maple syrup, maple extract, and bourbon are stirred in.
(Watch carefully not to overcook unless you want to have strange candy form in your pot.)
It is best for the cook not to consume excess mix while cooking the pork but to baste the roast judiciously and soberly as it is roasted. We used a two pound roast and it came out golden brown and delicious.
Notes and Speculations: I don’t know why in the book, Vermont maple syrup is specified. Perhaps it’s just regional loyalty. As instructed we “gilded the lily” by adding maple flavoring extract to the real maple syrup. I can’t see that this would make much difference.
And why is the whiskey not identified as Kentucky bourbon? I haven’t seen any record of Bourbon being commonly quaffed in the Inn’s early decades, and as a broadly distributed commercial product it doesn’t seem to have achieved fame as a uniquely Kentucky delight until the mid-to-late 19th century, but the book claims to present a blend of new and old so maple-Bourbon pork may serve as an example of the best of both eras.