it's okay to play with your food

Thursday, March 19, 2009

This Post is About Scrapple; Read at Your Own Risk

I am a proud Philadelphian, especially when it comes to food. I embrace the plasticine sheen of the butterscotch krimpet, the heart attack-inducing cheesesteak, and the salty goodness of the soft pretzel. One food that I never quite understood, however, was scrapple.

I mean, I understand it. It's an early incarnation of the Head to Tail eating philosophy: don't waste any part of the animal, including the offal. Originated by the Pennsylvania Dutch, the recipe has endured hundreds of years and much scorn by many eaters. Yet for as many people who detest scrapple, you can find about as many who adore it. Passionately.

And despite never wanting to eat it, I've always been fascinated by it. I remember reading my first scrapple package at the Wawa on 2nd and South and being 100% disgusted by the ingredients. And while I thought that moment of discovery would quell my curiosity, it appears only to have fed it, leading me to this week: the week I made scrapple from scratch.

My friend Mike is a master of meat. He makes bacon, pancetta, sausage, foie gras, etc. And yet, he never made scrapple. Inspired by this Saturday's ScrappleFest at Reading Terminal Market, we embarked upon a scrapple making adventure. Well, Mike led the way, and I followed, kinda freaked.

But just like the gelatinous broth that was melted and mixed with the ground pork, so too melted my fear of the trotters and snouts laid out on Mike's counter. First of all, the snouts were very cute. We named one Alfred. And as we combined the chopped meat with a tea ball full of allspice berries, peppercorns and cinnamon, I realized how well these sweet spices would meld with the offal-flavor.

Simmering the meat till tender took longer than anticipated, and I had to leave, so Mike actually did much of the meat separating/grinding on his own while I wiled away hours elsewhere in ignorant bliss. The next time I saw Alfred, he was just combined with starch and set to simmer on the stove till sufficiently thick. We poured him into two greased loaf pans and he has been setting since then. (If my camera hadn't been acting up on Tuesday, I would have photos for you. I promise more to come.)

While it looked disgusting that night (think grey goop), I have to say, the sample I tried was delicious. The liver flavor was the perfect potency and I actually was more appreciative of the taste knowing what exactly was in it, rather than being grossed out by the fact.

See you at ScrappleFest!

Mike's Scrapple

2 trotters, split lengthwise

1lb liver

.5lb pork shoulder scrap (sausage making style)

1.5lb snouts

Three cloves of garlic, crushed

An onion, quartered

About 20g mixed sweet spices (grated nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, black pepper, allspice, clove) in a tea ball

One bunch sage

1 T salt

1 t black pepper

2 C corn meal

2 C buckwheat flour

Chop all meat into smaller bits. Cover with water, add tea ball, a few sage leaves and onion. Simmer for about five hours.

Separate meat from broth, pick over meat for bones and onion skins. Chill meat and broth.

Let broth set into a solid, jiggly mass. Scrape the fat off the top.

Progressively grind meat: all of the meat went through the large die, then half of that went through the small die. Mix with the rest of the sage (chopped) and the salt and pepper.

Melt the broth, add in the ground meat. Bring to a boil, add starch, whisk to prevent lumping. Reduce to a simmer, let sit for an hour, stirring frequently.

Put into Pam-ed loaf tins, let set.

To serve, slice, dredge in flour, and fry.


Michael Greenberg said...

I've never done anything with foie gras (other than eat it!). If someone wanted to buy me some, though, I'm sure I could whip up some pate...

A different meat-master Mike—Mike Olson—made pate de foie gras at GP/TH, and it was delicious.

kitchenplay said...

Didn't you bring pate to Sarah's housewarming?

Michael Greenberg said...

I did, but it was made of pork liver and shoulder. I've worked with duck, goose, chicken, and quail livers, too, but they weren't fattened.

kitchenplay said...

Well golly, silly me. Thanks for the correction.

Melanie said...

I seriously applaud you!! I would be entirely too squeamish for this.

You should submit this to for their so-called "Meat/Not Meat Month"!

Felicia D'Ambrosio said...

It's awesome that you made this from scratch. Most people dismiss it without ever even trying it, much less making it at home. Culinary kudos! That said, I like Vrapple better -- make sure you get to taste it at Fair Food tomorrow!

Livia said...

Were you the person at the potluck who was writing a dissertation on the sociology of the availability of healthy food? If so, have you seen this article?

kitchenplay said...

No, that was E at foodaphilia, but I can pass it along to her. Thanks!