Dan grew up eating scrapple, but I had never heard of it until we took our first trip to Pennsylvania together. We stopped at a quaint country restaurant for breakfast, and he ordered some for me. Good stuff.
What is scrapple? The basic idea is to make a flour and meal mush, add seasoning and finely ground cooked meats, and pour into molds. The mush solidifies when cool (as cooked cereals are wont to do) so that it can be sliced and fried in butter, lard, or drippings until crispy brown. Serve with maple syrup, applesauce, or buttered grits and you've got a winner.
After we got home I kept my eye out at the grocery stores and would buy it when I could find it. It's not easy to find here in the South where livermush is much more common.
Now, I'd never heard of livermush either, but have come to decide that livermush is the southern equivalent to scrapple. The main differences are that scrapple uses a variety of meat parts and may or may not contain liver. Livermush always contains liver, usually head meat, and uses all corn meal. Scrapple uses flour (often buckwheat) and may or may not include corn meal. (If you use cooked steel cut oats, it's called "goetta".) For Dan, the only option is scrapple, so when we processed our two young pigs earlier this year, I saved the heads, tongues, and organ meats for making scrapple.
What was difficult was choosing a specific recipe. There must be hundreds of scrapple recipes. While they are basically the same, there are many variations in ingredients and proportions. Which one would taste like what we're used to? I figured if I it wasn't absolutely perfect this year, there is always next year!
So here's somewhat of a recipe, written down mostly for my own record keeping. I did not set out to have these particular amounts, this is just what I ended up with. To cook the meat:
- 2 pig heads (pigs were six months old)
- tongues, livers, hearts, and kidneys
- 1 medium onion, chunked
- 3 celery stalks
- enough filtered water to almost fill a gallon pot
I simmered the heads until the meat was tender, then removed them and deboned the meat. The organ meats were cooked separately in the same broth. The only thing I had to prepare were the kidneys. These were split lengthwise and the white vein removed. Once cooked everything was removed and allowed to cool. The onion and celery were feed to the chickens. I ended up with three quarts of broth. Cooled meat went through the grinder and I ended up with two pounds.
|My old meat grinder is smaller and slow, so I bought a new one. |
Much faster! For scrapple, the meats are cooked before grinding.
To make the mush:
- 3 qt broth - reserve about 2 cups cold
- 1.5 cup cornmeal
- 0.5 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 tbsp ground sage
- 1 tbsp ground thyme
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp ground rosemary
- 1.5 tbsp salt
First I mixed the flour, corn meal, and seasoning in the cold 2 cups of broth. Doing this made a smooth paste and eliminated lumps when adding it to the simmering broth. When the broth came to a simmer I added the meal paste. I was to simmer until thick and then add the ground meats. Most recipes said it would take about half an hour, but mine was much slower to thicken. It may have been the corn meal. One recipe stated that different brands recommend different amounts when making a cooked corn meal cereal. I used our home grown corn for my meal, so I had only trial and error on which to go.
Once the cereal was thick, the ground meats were stirred in and brought to a simmer again. Joy of Cooking instructed to pour it into bread pans that had been rinsed in cold water. Not sure why, but I did it anyway!
|I had enough to fill three small bread pans.|
One Sunday morning I took the first one out of the pan and tried to slice it. Observation number one was that it wasn't actually sliceable; it was too soft. I made a mental note to add either more cornmeal next time, or less liquid next time. Instead I formed it into patties and fried it.
|It's really tasty fried in sausage or bacon grease.|
The verdict? Well, the first tasting was good, but it didn't taste like scrapple. In hindsight I should have used less liver because that was the predominant flavor. Instead of scrapple I figured I had made livermush. It was disappointing on the one hand but delicious on the other.
Because it made so much I had to freeze the rest of it. Scrapple and livermush can be frozen, although it's not recommended. This is because it tends to retain water when it thaws, making it somewhat water logged. I squeeze out the excess water when I form the patties and the rest steams out during cooking. The other trick to good scrapple (or livermush), is to not flip it until the first side is crispy brown. That helps prevent it from falling apart.
I have to say that subsequent servings weren't so strongly liver tasting, so it's possible I didn't thoroughly mix the mush. Either way we like it (although Dan still likes scrapple better). In fact the other night it tasted exactly like the scrapple we've been used to. We had it with creamed hard-cooked eggs on toast (pictured at the top of the post). For an authentic Southern breakfast serve it with scrambled eggs and buttered grits.
Scrapple Fail = Livermush Success? © May 2016