One of the great tasty products whose origin is the Pennsylvania Dutch (Germans) is scrapple. As you might guess the name gives away the fact that the meat components of scrapple were/are those parts of the pig that we really don’t want to discuss, and the making of scrapple was/is quite an ordeal if done at home from scratch using traditional recipes (But I am not traditional!). I always liked scrapple but most areas where I have lived do not sell it. It tends to be a regional favorite rather than national or international.
Some time ago I researched the making of scrapple, looking at many different recipes, all of them complex and time consuming, and I thought … There simply has to be a better way to make this delightful stuff at home. Well, that is what Food Nirvana is all about, making great stuff at home, easily and inexpensively.
One morning I had seven pounds of ground pork that I had made from an 11 lb. pork shoulder roast. I planned to make breakfast sausage with all of it, but then my memories of scrapple came to the foreground. Without belaboring the subject I got the ingredients list from my earlier research and I modified them to suit what I had for pork and liver and what made the most sense to me regarding seasonings. I then got creative about how to process the ingredients to make scrapple easily. My first batch was really good but I made more modifications to achieve taste perfection and further simplify the process of making the scrapple.
The results of my experiments are this recipe. It is so damn good I’m angry with myself for waiting so many years to try making scrapple. Even better, it is a snap to make and I limit the fat content to make it more healthy to eat.
Ingredients: (makes about 8 pounds of scrapple)
3 lbs. of finely ground pork shoulder with some fat included (limit the fat to 10 percent by weight for the meat and fat combination). Wimps can simply buy ground pork at the supermarket!
10 oz. fresh beef liver (I normally don't like liver but it is important to use it when making scrapple, so I simply limited the amount.)
1 cup of flour
3 cups of stone ground cornmeal
2 tbsp. of sea salt
5 tsp. of ground black pepper
3 tsp. of dried sage
1 1/2 tsp. of ground mace
3 tbsp. of agar agar powder (you can buy this versatile thickening agent inexpensively at www.bulkfoods.com)
1 1/2 tsp. of ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. of dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp. of dried marjoram
3 quarts of water
Set the oven to 200ºF on a convection setting.
If you process pork shoulder as I do, separate the meat from the fat, without worrying about a small bit of the fat that is difficult to remove. Then weigh the meat and the fat separately. Add enough fat to the meat to produce the combination that is ten percent fat.
Grind small pieces of the pork and the fat with your meat grinder, first with the large holes attachment and then a second time with the small holes attachment.
Use your meat grinder to process small cut up pieces of the liver, adding them to the pork and fat mixture.
Use your electric mixer with the regular beater on medium speed to pulverize the ground pork/fat/liver mixture and turn it into a homogenous paste. That takes about five minutes.
Add the water gradually to the mixing bowl while continuing to mix.
Add the agar agar a little at a time and mix well. Then add the flour and the cornmeal gradually.
Add all the remaining ingredients into the mixing bowl and mix for five minutes, scraping down the sides every few minutes to assure complete mixing.
Pour/spoon the scrapple mixture into four 9" by 4" by 3" glass baking dishes, the type you would use to bake bread.
Cover the baking dishes tightly with aluminum foil and place them on a cookie tray.
Bake for two hours on a convection setting at 200ºF. I use the convection setting on my oven to assure getting uniform heat everywhere.
Remove the baking dishes from the oven and place them on a wooden cutting board.
Let the scrapple cool to room temperature, covered.
Refrigerate the finished scrapple overnight or for a minimum of four to six hours to allow it to chill completely and set.
Remove the aluminum foil from a chilled container of scrapple and use a kitchen table knife to loosen the scrapple where it touches the interior sides and ends of the glass baking dishes.
Invert the baking dish and shake it gently to extract the scrapple onto a wooden cutting board.
Cut the scrapple into slices about 5/8" thick, putting the slices on waxed paper on a cookie tray, then put the cookie tray into the deep freeze. Repeat this for the remaining baking dishes of scrapple.
Package and vacuum seal the frozen scrapple in two to four piece amounts. Return the vacuum sealed frozen scrapple to the deep freeze.
Repeat the above processing for the remaining baking dishes of scrapple.
Keep the scrapple frozen until you are ready to use it.
Take some scrapple from the freezer and let it partially thaw so you can easily remove it from the vacuum sealed package.
To fry the scrapple, heat two tablespoons of cooking oil or bacon grease in a large skillet and place four pieces of partially thawed frozen scrapple onto the hot oil. Fry them on medium heat until the scrapple is crisp on one side, about three to four minutes.
Carefully slide a spatula under each piece and flip it over onto the hot oil or bacon grease and fry the second side until it is crisp, another three to four minutes.
If you are making multiple packets of scrapple keep the ones you fried on a plate in a 160ºF warming oven.
Serve the scrapple either plain or with ketchup or maple syrup. It is a fine accompaniment to fried eggs and toast, along with a nice hot cup of freshly brewed coffee.