May 31, 2016

Scrapple Fail = Livermush Success?

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.


Dani said...

Interesting. I've never heard of scrapple, nor creamed hard cooked eggs ;)

Leigh said...

I think the scrapple is a very regional item. Not sure about the creamed hard cooked eggs. I found the recipe in Betty Crocker when I was looking for recipes to use up eggs!

Mark said...

I've heard of scrapple and (I think) had it once years ago while in the Corps when spending a long weekend with a buddy and his family in PA. Never heard of livermush. There is a local establishment that serves a version of creamed hard cooked eggs. While all this sounds really good, I'm 2 days into a two-week post-surgery liquid diet which makes it all largely academic for me! :-)

Theresa said...

Oh yes, scrapple. It was on the menu throughout PA and parts of NJ , DE and down into Virginia. I've seen it sold in poorer areas in the northeast but not often. My Mother who was born in Williamsburg VA loves it. Myself, I am not fond of it. Now Taylor Pork Roll and real soft pretzels where always a winner. Another regional food source mostly from PA. My grandparents lived in Yardley PA for many years until they moved to god's waiting room (FL). I spent much of every summer there. To this day I order Taylor pork roll and keep it in the freezer for a guilty pleasure.

Fiona said...

We had Scrapple when we children in Southern Alberta, Canada.
The version my mother made was more gelatenous? She clean the skulls of any butchered beef and then used it. She also mad the pest pickled beef tongue. Her recipes were from my French Grandmother.

Ed said...

I've never heard of livermush or scrapple until today. I generally shy away from organ meats but being an adventurous eater (according to others) I would certainly try them if provided the opportunity.

On a side note, I think there are a whole lot of foods that taste different, often times for the better, the second day around. We often cook some foods in the evening when the girls are in bed and we have more free time and then actually consume them for supper the following day.

Renee Nefe said...

I've heard of scrapple, but have never actually seen it or been tempted to look for it. I grew up in the south and NEVER heard of livermush. I wasn't exposed to Braunschweiger until I was an adult either. I'm guessing that there were some things that no matter how beloved they wouldn't serve. ;) course I did grow up on dirty rice, perhaps that was our equivalent. Perhaps my mother being a northern gal and my father being very picky had something to do with it. She did try to serve us kidney stew once...she got very upset with me for not liking it when she lied and said it was beef stew. :-/

Sharon in Surrey said...

Basically, you're making poor man's savory pudding! Every culture has a version - Haggis, for instance, is the liver, heart & lungs of sheep or pigs chopped with suet,onion,oats & spices & a little broth to hold it together. It's stuffed in a sheep/pig's stomach or intestines & boiled until firm. Sliced & fried with mashed spuds & turnips or deep fried & served with chips in Scotland. Most savory puddings use blood, fat, heart, tongue, & lungs with whatever cereals are available. Some historians say the Vikings brought it to Britain in their longboats. And there's some evidence that they took a version to Iceland as well. Others say the Romans carried it as they conquered Europe.
Had my first Haggis at a Robbie Burns celebration. Not bad at all.

Sharon in Surrey said...

Are talking about Headcheese Fiona??? Picked head meat from pigs in a jellied spiced broth that can be sliced??

Leigh said...

Mark, I'm glad to hear you're out of surgery and on the road to recovery! Sounds like you must be doing well.

The creamed eggs was a new recipe for me and I'm curious about trying some variations. It's pretty good.

Leigh said...

I'll have to ask Dan if he's heard of Taylor Pork Roll! Sounds really good. Another one from that area is TastyKake, although they seem to have changed their recipes when they went national. TastyKakes just aren't as good as they used to be.

Leigh said...

Fiona, Debby from Riddle Family Farm blog makes a turkey scrapple and adds gelatin to it. I can see why, although I think mine simply needs more meal. The head meat really makes for a good scrapple.

Pickled beef tongue is something I've never had. I remember my grandmother used to buy tongue and boil it I believe. My dad loved it sliced in sandwiches.

Sharon, I remember reading about head cheese in one of Laura Wilder's Little House books, but confess I've never tried it and have no clue how to make it.

Leigh said...

Organ meats are definitely not very popular these days, although they are extremely healthy. Most folks think of liver which is pretty strong flavored.

I have to agree about making one day and eating the next. The ingredient flavors seem to meld together deliciously!

Leigh said...

Braunschweiger! I remember Braunschweiger from growing up in the midwest. As a kid I wouldn't touch it until I was visiting a friend who wanted a "chocolate cheese" sandwich for lunch. I couldn't resist that and loved it. It turned out to be Braunschweiger. So what's in a name? A lot!

Leigh said...

Sharon, you are so right about cultural and regional versions of food. That's the fun of it!

I have to say that I've never had the opportunity to try Haggis, but certainly would if I could.

Leslie Eichler said...

Leigh, I've got a tried and true scrapple recipe that my family has used for years. It calls for pork shoulder and pork liver, but that's because we didn't use butchered pigs, just what we could buy at the grocery store. No reason you couldn't substitute other meats. It makes one loaf pan, you could easily triple it. Here it is, sorry if it is too long!
1/2 lb pork shoulder
1/4 lb pork liver
1 c cornmeal
1/4 c finely chopped onion
1/8 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground thyme
1 t ground sage
1 t ground marjoram
2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
Simmer meats with 4 c water for 1 hour. Drain broth and reserve. Bone and chop meats. Combine corn meal, salt, pepper, 1 cup cold water and 2 cups broth in saucepan. Cook and stir till thickened. Add meat, onions, and spices. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Pour into loaf pan. Chill. To serve slice, dip in flour, fry in hot oil. We love it with spicy catsup!

Leigh said...

Leslie, not too long at all, thank you! The proportions of meat, liquid, and meal seem key. Funny, but I never thought about dipping it in flour. Will have try that the next time I fry some up.

Fiona said...

Please forgive my above dreadful grammar and spelling....I typed from my tablet in the car:)

icebear said...

i wonder if you cooked the heads longer -ears and other cartilage would have melted down more-- making a sturdier broth and a thicker set on the scrapple. just guessing, this isn't something i have a lot of experience with :)

Unknown said...

Why is nutmeg listed twice in your recipe? Is one meant to be something else? Thanks! I look forward to trying this, as I have a friend butchering pigs soon :)

Leigh said...

It might have. Some recipes call for additional gelatin as well. I think next time I'll try for less liquid.

Leigh said...

Typo! And I'll have to dig out my original notes to see what it's supposed to be. Since nutmeg is listed with two different amounts, I'm guessing it's two different ingredients. When I find out I'll come back and correct the recipe. Thanks for the heads up!

Leigh said...

Thyme! It was thyme, not the first nutmeg. I just found the recipe as I was cleaning the kitchen for Thanksgiving. Recipe is now corrected.