by Eric Wharton
My Recipe Book, constantly being added to
Fresh flowers were cut and presented
To my pretty wife who has consented
Instead of pie made of apple
We had fried eggs mixed with scrapple
— James Thomas Horn
Traced back to pre-roman Europe and through low German history, the version now popular was first made by German colonists who settled in Philadelphia and Chester County of Pennsylvania. Called pon haus, panhoss, or pannhaas, which means “pan rabbit,” it has become almost a Philadelphia food group. I hate it, though, and will always hate it, but it seems you're not allowed to claim Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry unless you know what's in it. It's some kind of perverted Swiss-German badge of honor, so I keep this recipe.
Originally, it was made of hog offal: head (often the entire head), heart, liver, and other trimmings were boiled to make a broth. Once cooked, the bones and fat were removed. The remaining meat was minced, dry cornmeal was mixed in to make a mush, then a wide variety of spices were added (presumably to make it edible). Thankfully, pork butt is substituted these days for offal.
It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but my parents loved it for breakfast. It is similar to white pudding of Ireland and Scotland, and the spicier Hog pudding of western England.
3 lb pork butt
3 cups cornmeal
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sage
1 tsp savory
11/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
Cover pork butt with water. Add salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until pork is tender, about 2 hours. Remove meat and reserve stock. When meat is cool, debone and discard excess fat. Chop meat very fine, or pass through a meat grinder, then set aside.
Place 21/2 quarts of stock in a 5-quart pot. Add sage, thyme, savory, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves (the need for all these spices should give you a clue). Bring to a boil and gradually add corn meal, stirring rapidly until well combined. Reduce heat and continue to cook, stirring often, until mixture is very thick and a spoon almost stands on its own (about 15 minutes). If it gets too thick, add more broth and stir well. You will have to learn what degree of thickness to cook the corn meal. If its too thin, the chilled mixture will not get as stiff as expected. If that happens, don't panic. You can still slice and fry it, although it will fall apart easily.
Add meat and stir well. Reduce heat to low and cook an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. After a couple of minutes, taste for seasoning and adjust spices. Spitting at this point is not permitted ... remember, you wanted to do this. Throwing out, however, is permitted. Scrapple must be well seasoned or will taste bland when fried (big surprise). You may need to play with the mixture of seasonings, tasting and adjusting until you get what you want (try emptying your spice rack into it).
You now have to make it into a loaf (as if it wasn't unattractive enough already). Place a piece of waxed paper into the bottom of two 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.
Now its time to actually re-cook this gross-looking dish so you can eat it. To fry, remove the loaf from the pan and slice into 1/2-inch slices. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and, 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.
Serve as is, or as many Pennsylvania Dutch do, with ketchup or apple butter— probably because it needs something that has some actual taste. Many people dredge scrapple in a light coating of flour before frying.
Scrapple freezes well, so 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 frozen, reducing the heat slightly to allow more cooking time. Remember, everything is previously cooked so it only needs to be browned and heated. Serve instead of bacon, ham, or sausage for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Return to Mason-Dixon Recipes