Why It Works
- You can customize the meat and which cuts to use.
- Cornmeal and buckwheat flour hold the meat together, so it can be sliced and fried.
Scrapple sounds like an insult, the name you call the runt in gym class. More likely it derives from the terms scraps and scrappy. And what a fitting name indeed for a traditional Pennsylvania-Dutch dish made from the odds and ends of the pig, stewed, chopped, or ground up, and mixed with cornmeal and flour. (Yum.) Often the cornmeal is cooked in the gluey gelatinous stock that comes from such a commingling of pig parts in a pot.
Once firm, scrapple is cut up and fried. It's a humble dish made with thrift in mind, just another instance of when eating low on the hog is a good thing. Think: a sort of fried polenta, were it injected with as much porky character as possible. (Although scrapple is traditionally made with pork, you could just as well use beef or lamb parts.)
What pig parts go into scrapple? That's like asking what used to go into hot dogs, and probably still does. Its contents most likely varied depending on what was at hand. After a pig slaughter, probably just about everything went into scrapple on the premise that as long it could be bound with mushy cornmeal and gelatinous meat stock, then it was fair game for the scrapple pot. (Meat and skin, tendons, liver, brains, little bits of stomach, ears, and so forth.)
I'm no advocate of tossing in just anything, in any amount. If you're going to use liver and/or brains, you don't want to overwhelm the sweetness of the corn and the fleshy flavor of meat with too much offal.
For my first batch of scrapple, I started with two trotters, some smoked pork neck, and some liver leftover from a liver and onions dinner. I simmered the trotters and neck and ears, then ground up the cooked parts with the leftover liver. Meanwhile the cornmeal was cooking in another pot. If the cornmeal started sticking to the bottom of the pot, calling for a little more moisture, I'd dip a mug into the stockpot to retrieve a little more of that porky broth. For my second batch of scrapple, I pretty much did the same thing, except I finely chopped up some stewed pig's ears I had on hand.
Mixing up scrapple is fun. Once the grains are cooked and the pig parts processed to your desired level of coarseness, the rest is entirely up to you. (And as for cutting up the bits of pork, I happen to like it when I can still see some meaty bits in the mix, but you could process it more or less finely and still get a blockish thing of scrapple.) Like making sausage, you get to choose what spice blend you want to use. And like sausage, a slab of scrapple makes for a great accompaniment to eggs, sunny-side up and still runny.
This recipe was cross-tested in 2022 and lightly updated to guarantee best results. For a boost of flavor, we added sage. We also swapped the 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan for a 9- by 5-inch one to better accommodate the scrapple mixture.
3 pounds (1.37kg) bone-in pork butt, preferably skin on
2 pig trotters (about 1.1 pounds; 500g each)
4 medium onions (8 ounces; 227g each), roughly chopped, about 3 cups
6 medium cloves garlic
4 ounces (115g) pork liver, about 1/2 inch thick (see note)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable or canola oil, plus extra for serving
2 cups plain yellow cornmeal (11 ounces; 312g)
1/2 cup (2 3/8 ounces; 68g) buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a large Dutch oven, add pork butt, trotters, onions, and garlic. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, skimming off any scum that accumulates on the surface, until pork is very tender and falling off the bone, about 3 hours. Let stand off-heat for 10 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork to a cutting board and set aside until cool enough to handle. Then, separate meat and discard skin, bone, and tendons. Strain cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large heatproof bowl, discarding onions and garlic; you should have about 7 1/2 cups (1.77L) pork stock. Set aside.
Season liver with salt and pepper. In a large cast iron or stainless-steel skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add liver and cook, without moving, until lightly browned on first side, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook on second side until center is just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a cutting board along with reserved pork meat, and, using a sharp knife, finely dice liver and reserved pork meat together (you should have about 5 or 6 cups in total).
In a 3-quart saucepan or saucier, whisk together cornmeal and 7 cups (1.66L) pork stock. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, whisking often, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue to cook, whisking and scraping the bottom and sides often and adding additional pork stock and/or water as needed, until the liquid has been absorbed and the cornmeal is smooth and has thickened like polenta, 20 to 45 minutes (cook time will depend heavily on the type and grind size of cornmeal used). Towards the last 10 minutes of cooking, whisk in buckwheat flour quickly to prevent it from clumping.
Stir meat and liver into cornmeal mixture, then add sage, paprika, and cayenne pepper, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer pork-cornmeal mixture to a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper and smooth surface. Let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate scrapple until set, at least 3 hours. At this point, scrapple may be kept in the refrigerator for several days, or frozen (let thaw in refrigerator before serving).
To Serve: Slice scrapple into 3/4-inch-thick slabs. In a 10-inch cast iron or nonstick skillet, heat a few tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches, cook scrapple, flipping once, until brown and crispy on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve immediately.
Dutch oven, 10-inch skillet, 3-quart saucepan or saucier, 9- by 5-inch loaf pan
The 4 ounces pork liver may come as a single piece or a few pieces, depending on where you shop; as long as each piece is about 1/2 inch thick, the cooking times in the recipe will be accurate.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 66g||84%|
|Saturated Fat 20g||99%|
|Total Carbohydrate 47g||17%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||18%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 10mg||50%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|