Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Weird Food Wednesdays: Scrapple

The recent paranoia about the swine flu has caused hog prices and related commodities to plummet, so I thought I'd do my part to support the hog industry by featuring something porky this week: Scrapple.

Scrapple (or panhaas) is a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty made from cornmeal, buckwheat and leftover pig parts. The hog is the king of traditional Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine, and no part ever goes to waste.

Relax...according to the CDC, you can't catch swine flu from eating pork products (but you should still cook pork to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees F just to be safe).

To make scrapple, pig scraps are boiled to make pork stock, ground up offal is added for flavor, and the mixture thickened with cornmeal and buckwheat flour. The resulting pork mush is formed into a loaf, allowed to set, then sliced up and fried.

I live close enough to Pennsylvania Dutch country that I can find commercially prepared scrapple in my local supermarkets. My neighborhood ACME actually has an entire section devoted to scrapple. I didn't expect to have so many varieties to choose from - do I go with a more recognizable national brand or a local brand? Pork, beef or turkey scrapple? Which pig scraps make the most authentic scrapple, heart or snout? Liver or tongue? Every brand looked exactly the same - grayish speckled mystery loaves.

I decided to hang around in the processed meat section, reading ingredient labels, waiting for someone to show up and buy some scrapple (my loitering strategy totally worked when I was in the market for gefilte fish earlier this month, when there was no shortage of friendly shoppers offering me advice). I got tired of waiting after 10 minutes and just grabbed a package of the Hatfield pork scrapple - it had enough pork offal listed in the ingredients to give it some 'street cred' but it was surprisingly lean at 90 calories and 5 grams of fat per 2 ounce serving.

I followed the easy "brown 'n' serve" instructions on the packaging, using unsalted butter to grease the pan. I left the 1/4 inch slices undisturbed in the frying pan for around 8 minutes and they browned up really nicely. The kitchen smelled delicious while I was frying, like country sausage. I served the scrapple slices with scrambled eggs and home fries (breakfast for dinner).

Hubby Kris didn't know what he was eating but he really liked it. The pan fried scrapple was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, the texture reminiscent of a hoe cake. The taste was pleasantly porky and nicely seasoned with a bit of black pepper. Much milder tasting than I expected - I only got a hint of offal in the aftertaste.

Where to buy: If you live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C., chances are you'll be able to find commercially prepared scrapple in the processed meat section of your local supermarket. For everyone else, you can buy scrapple online from Stoltzfus Meats in Intercourse, PA here (and don't forget the shoo fly pie). And scrapple fans, declare your undying love for scrapple with an "I love Scrapple" t-shirt here.

I'm pretty sure that most people would like scrapple if they just gave it a chance. In fact, I think I'll serve scrapple the next time I have company over for brunch, perhaps even the variety containing pig snout. So in-laws, consider yourself warned!

Weaver, William Woys. Pennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking. New York, New York: Abbeville Press, 1993.



Heavenly Housewife said...

May I suggest a little compote of eye of newt with that LOL?

Passionate Eater said...

You really are daring Phyllis! I love your idea of serving scrapple to the in-laws!

Anonymous said...

What about some Taylor Ham too!

Anonymous said...

How interesting! I love your Weird Food Wednesdays! It's so fun to learn about new foods!

KennyT said...

Does it taste like SPAM?

Justin Schwartz said...

lol, doing your part to support the hog industry.... i'm publishing an entire book of pork recipes next year. how's that?

Jenn said...

I've heard of it. I've heard how it tastes like. Yet, I'm still not sure If I'd eat it. And I love my pork, too. Maybe on a dare I'd eat it.

Phyllis said...

Heavenly Housewife: sounds perfect with some jellied eel! ;)

Passionate Eater: Daring by poking fun at my in-laws - absolutely! (I hope they aren't reading this post)

Anonymous: I know that's you hubby Kris, and I think you mean Taylor Pork Roll!

5 Star Foodie: So glad you are enjoying Weird Food Wednesdays! Always fun to write and share.

Kenny T: Kinda like spam with a pork liver twist!

Justin Schwartz: So you don't think my post will cause a scrapple stampede to the supermarket? And looking forward to your pork recipe book!

Jenn: I dare you! And I bet you'll like it!

Teanna said...

That scrapple looks AWESOME. I am loving the Weird Food Wednesdays!

Tangled Noodle said...

I love that you actually go out and try everything you post on Weird Food Wednesday! Now that is dedication to the food blog craft. I don't know if I'll be successful but I'm willing to check out scrapple - love this kind of stuff! After all, I was weaned on SPAM, SPAM, SPAM (which, BTW, originated in nearby Austin, MN). 8-)

Phyllis said...

Teanna: Thanks so much! It wasn't hard to make scrapple look appetizing - it browned up really nicely on it's own.

Tangled Noodle: I didn't know SPAM originated in MN - I love SPAM, but it took several years before Hubby Kris would even agree to try it. Now he's a pro at eating weird food. And I don't know whether you've noticed, but all my WFW topics so far are foods I actually like! (I may have to relax this rule in the future when I start running out of weird foods.)

Anonymous said...

Have you done a post on spam yet, I hear he and scapple are cousins!

Mrs. H said...

LOL... I grew up eating scrapple (Rapa brand only please, nothing else will do), but perhaps that's because I'm from Delaware. I think it's my hubby's favorite food. He likes it on a toasted sandwich with cheese. It's funny to hear people refer to it as a strange food. My parents just moved away to Tennessee... Scrapple is the only thing they miss (besides us kids, of course).

Grill Girl said...

You have to try livermush. It's really popular in North Carolina. It's kind of like Scrapple, but I like it a lot better. It's mostly ground pig liver and usually some spare parts picked meat like head meat or neckbone plus some cornmeal for binding.

Kim said...

I know this is many years later but I live in Louisiana now and craving scrapple. I lived in NC and tried livermush, its not Rapa Scrapple. My whole question is where to buy online? Any help would be great.

Cravin' Scrapple

Rhonda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhonda said...

It tastes nothing like Spam...!
We LOVE Scrapple. We like to fry it up and eat it for breakfast with fried eggs.
Alternately, it is delicious spread with apple butter or maple syrup. One of our favorite breakfast foods.