It must be Christmas because I made a batch of scrapple. Unlike normal families who sit around singing carols ‘neath the tree, sipping mugs of hot cocoa with little marshmallows floating on top, my family’s holiday tradition consists of making pork mush. My cousins actually have contests to see whose tastes the best. Bless their little hearts.
Scrapple, so-called because farmers refused to waste any of the meat scraps left over from the annual hog butchering, is considered a 17th century Pennsylvania Dutch delicacy, tho' history indicates it's been around in some form or fancy for a lot longer than that. "Everything but the squeal" went into making this: the organ meats such as tongue, heart, liver and brains, and bits scraped off the head.
This recipe uses pork shoulder (Boston butt), a much more palatable part of Mr. Hog; the same cut that gives us pulled pork for BBQ sandwiches. We serve scrapple for Christmas day breakfast.
3 lb boneless pork shoulder (Boston Butt)
2 qts (8 C) chicken broth or stock
2 stalks celery, cut in half or thirds
2 - 3 carrots, cut in half
1 large onion, peeled and sectioned into 8ths
6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Several sprigs fresh thyme
Other herbs and spices (use whatever you have on hand that appeals to you: rosemary, fennel, sage, crushed red pepper, etc)
2 C yellow corn meal
Bacon grease (or veggie oil)
Optional: maple syrup, applesauce, ketchup (ugh!), even grape jelly
Place meat in a large pot with chicken broth, veggies, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, thyme and your other herbs and spices. Bring just to a boil, cover, turn heat down to a low simmer, and cook until meat is tender and falling apart, 'bout 3 hours, or so.
Remove the meat from the pot. Strain the broth 2 or 3 times, discarding the chunky stuff. Set strained broth aside.
If you are like me and very particular when it comes to meat, pick through it, gently scraping away most of the gooshy parts. Feed granddog the real scraps. He'll love you for life and fart happily for the rest of the day.
At this point, you are supposed to use an old-fashioned meat grinder, the kind that bolts to the table and has a turn crank. My parents used to have one, but they either got rid of it long ago, or it got tossed when we were moving them to the Dallas area. If you don't have one, a food processor works just as well. Roughly chop the meat before processing it.
You want 2 qts (8 C) of what I call a "slurry", which is meat mixed with the strained broth. Spoon half of your meat into a 1 qt measuring cup, and then add broth to the 1 qt line (4 C total). Dump this into the pot you used to cook the meat in the first place. Repeat with the remaining half. If you run out of broth, use water.
Bring the slurry to barely bubbling over medium-low heat. Add your corn meal a little bit at a time, whisking constantly. The corn meal will slowly thicken the slurry. It will get REALLY thick and extremely hard to whisk/stir. (I start out with a wire whisk, finish up with a sturdy wooden spoon.) Cook and stir until you get a consistency that's almost cement-like. The stuff will kind of stand up under its own power.
Turn off the heat and spoon the thickened meat mixture into a loaf pan. Cool, cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (at the very least) to firm up.
When ready to eat, invert the loaf pan onto a cutting board. The scrapple should slide right out and retain its shape. Slice cross-wise into 1/4" or thicker slices. Thicker slices will be crispy on the outside, a little mushy on the inside. Pan fry in the bacon grease until nicely browned on both sides. Serve with the optional stuff listed above. I prefer syrup or applesauce. My daughter suggested we try sour cream. Applesauce and sour cream are served with potato latkes, so consider scrapple a meat latke! A very non-Kosher latke!
"I am not
a glutton; I am an explorer of food." How I miss Erma Bombeck!