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!
This recipe is almost as old as I am, maybe older. I remember my mother making it when I was a kid. I called it string meat because of the stringy texture of the roast after it's cooked. It's a very simple meal and hard to beat; it's prepared in a cooking bag which eliminates soaking and scouring your pan after. This recipe makes its own yummy gravy.
POT ROAST (or CHUCK ROAST WINNER DINNER, as it says on my mom's old recipe card)
Feeds a hungry hoard.
3 lbs chuck roast (the one pictured above was almost 3.5 lbs)
2 lbs small Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed, keep skins on
1 lb bag "baby" carrots
1 lb button mushrooms, scrubbed, left whole (stems removed, if desired)
1 lg yellow onion, peeled, cut into thick rings and separated
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope Lipton's onion soup mix
3 - 4 TB A-1 Steak Sauce
1 turkey-sized oven bag
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the oven bag according to package directions.
Place the bag in a large glass casserole dish, and place the meat in the center of the bag. Surround your roast with the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and onions.
In a bowl, mix together the soups and steak sauce. Spoon the mixture over the meat. Close the bag tightly and snip vents in the top, if directed. Tuck in the sides and corners, and make sure your bag won't come into contact with the oven walls, door or heating elements when it expands.
Cook for 2 1/2 - 3 hours. The one above took 2 1/2.
Slice open the bag and remove the roast to a serving platter. Arrange veggies around the sides. Pour off the gravy into a gravy boat.
My father's ancestors on HIS father's side hail from Cornwall in England. They were miners who came to this country in the 1800's. My great-grandfather settled in a tiny little mining camp in the Colorado mountains called Silver Plume, not too far from Georgetown. I was told the name came from the way the silver ore formed "plumes" or feather-like deposits in the rock.
Cornish pasties (not to be confused with the nipple coverings worn by exotic dancers) are meat pies, and have been around, in one form or another, for centuries. They were popular with miners because they were a complete meal, didn't require utensils to eat, easily carried piping hot to work in the morning, and still warm and toasty by lunch time.
Traditional pasty recipes used a filling of uncooked beef, turnips, potatoes and onions. The filling was heaped on a thick pastry circle, folded over, and then crimped along one edge to seal everything inside. The crimped side made an ideal hand-hold that could be discarded if the miner's hands were dirty, or had been in contact with toxic compounds.
My great-uncle Stanley, whenever he came to visit us from California, would take over my mother's kitchen (and sanity) and spend one entire day preparing and baking Cornish pasties. He would make a dozen or more, and what wasn't eaten then and there, were frozen for later consumption. I loved them, and would eat them the way my ancestors ate them, with my bare, but clean, hands. Mother insisted on clean hands for every meal.
I have my uncle's recipe (his version includes pork, as well as beef). I tried it once, years and years ago, and of course the result wasn't anything like I remembered. The filling was easy, it was the pastry part that was hard; I just don't "get" pie crusts, or baking in general, and I don't expect I ever will. Also, it took all day, and made a humongous mess.
So, to get my occasional pasty fix, I adapted the recipe into a much easier pie form, using store-bought pie crusts, and omitting the beef and the turnips. It lacks the thick, meaty, rustic texture of the real thing, but I'm just not THAT devoted of a cook.
THE LAZY COOK'S CORNISH "PASTIES"
Makes two deep-dish pies.
2 lbs ground pork
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 - 32 oz bag frozen Southern Style potatoes
1 - 12 oz bag frozen crinkle cut carrots, partially cooked according to package directions*
1 C water
3 TB flour
2 pkgs ready made pie crusts (4 pie crusts)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large skillet, cook and crumble pork with onion, thyme and salt until no pink remains. Drain the meat, reserving the drippings. Place the meat in a bowl, and return drippings to the skillet.
Add the potatoes and carrots to the drippings in the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally until potatoes are cooked through and a light golden color. While potatoes cook, whisk water with flour and stir into meat. (You can eliminate the water/flour step, but this helps to hold the filling a bit so it doesn't fall out when serving.)
When potatoes are done, add the meat back into the skillet and stir until everything is thoroughly mixed. Allow mixture to cool just a bit.
Bring the pie crusts to room temperature. Unroll one crust into bottom of ungreased deep-dish pie plate. Place half of meat/potato mixture on top, and then cover with a second pie crust. Trim the crusts along the plate edge with a knife or kitchen shears. Pinch the edges together into a decorative scallop, or simply press down with the tines of a fork. Make the second pie with remaining crusts and filling.
Whisk your egg with a bit of water, and brush the egg wash lightly over the tops. Perforate the tops with three or four steam vents.
Bake immediately until the tops are a golden brown. You may wish to cover the edges of the pies with foil so they don't get burned. Allow pies to sit for a few minutes before slicing.
*You may cook the carrots all the way through, according to package directions. I prefer my carrots to have a little crunch, and so I only partially cook them.
'Ave a 'appy nosh,
Top left: http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/cornish-pasty-meat-potato-pie/
"I am not
a glutton; I am an explorer of food." How I miss Erma Bombeck!