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Homemade Scrapple (Pon Haus)

Makes two 9-1/2 inch loaves before slicing

I have finally become a believer. I grew up in Pennsylvania with Scrapple, a popular breakfast meat, all around me. I just could not acquire a taste for it because of some seasoning to which I objected. Not to mention, I never really understood what was in scrapple and thought it had a mushy consistency. When I started the PA Dutch recipe page, I knew I would have to make it one day and get it posted, whether or not I liked it, using scrapple fans as the judges. I found several recipes, gathered ideas from the combination and, lo and behold, the stuff is pretty good. And, much to my surprise, considerably healthier than I ever suspected. To best describe scrapple, it is very much like fried polenta. It is mostly corn meal mixed with cooked lean meat, usually pork, and seasonings, poured into loaf pans and refrigerated overnight to stiffen. Then it is sliced and fried in a little butter or oil. Every recipe I found was different in amounts, seasonings and some of the methodology. You will find some of the variations I found listed below.

Ingredients

Place the pork and water in an 8-quart stock pot. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer until pork is tender, about 2 hours. Place the meat on a large plate; reserve the stock. When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove it from the bones and discard excess fat. Chop the meat very finely; set aside. (See the variations below for chopping methods.)

Place 2-1/2 quarts of the stock in a 5-quart pot. Add the thyme, sage, savory, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. Bring to a boil and gradually add the corn meal, stirring or whisking rapidly until it is all combined. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture is very thick, so that a spoon almost stands up by its own, about 15 minutes. (If it gets too thick, just add a little more of the broth and stir well.) Add the meat and stir well to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. After a couple minutes, taste for seasoning and adjust as desired. Scrapple must be well-seasoned or it will taste very bland when fried.

Place a piece of waxed paper into the bottom of two 9x5 loaf pans so that the ends extend over the two long sides. That will make it easier to lift the refrigerated loaf out of the pan later. Pour half the mixture into each pan. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight or until chilled and solid.

To fry, remove the loaf from the pan and place on cutting surface. Slice into about 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add some butter and, as soon as it melts, add the scrapple slices. It is critical with scrapple to let each side brown thoroughly before attempting to turn it over or it will stick and fall apart, so be very patient. Serve as is or, as many PA Dutchmen would do, with ketchup or apple butter.

Notes: You will have to learn, as I did, what degree of thickness to cook the corn meal. On my first attempt, it obviously was too thin because the chilled mixture did not get as stiff as expected. If that happens to you, do not panic. I was still able to slice and fry it, although it fell apart easily. You will need to play with the seasonings, tasting and adjusting until you get what you want. Many people dredge scrapple in a light coating of flour before frying. Scrapple freezes very well; just slice and wrap individually in waxed paper and then place in freezer bags. Take out as many slices as you want and fry them with or without thawing, reducing the heat slightly if frozen to allow more cooking time. Remember, everything is previously cooked so it only needs to be browned and heated through. Serve instead of bacon, ham or sausage for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Variations: Two of the recipes I used as sources were from a Jeff Smith cookbook and Grandma Born's Scrapple on my Shared Family Recipes page as submitted by William Cooper. One recipe uses pork neck bones, which produce a more gelatinous texture that aids in holding the mixture together. The other uses boneless beef chuck in addition to the pork butt, but less broth to cook the corn meal. The seasonings are completely different, one using herbs and the other baking spices. Another difference is that, in one preparation you coarsely chop the meat, while in the other the meat is passed through a meat grinder. I do mine in the processor, but not too finely. So you can see that, once you start making scrapple, there are many ways to conform it to your own tastes. Since I posted this recipe, another, simpler version was submitted by Mark Voelker, called Mark's Scrapple. You might want to check that out as well.