Scrapple is a great family favorite that comes from my wife’s heritage. Although she grew up in Texas, she was born in Wilmington, Delaware where many of her family still reside. Wilmington is on the edge of the scrapple epicenter which lies in the Pennsylvania Dutch communities of southeastern Pennsylvania and extend into nearby New Jersey and Delaware.
One of our favorite family breakfasts remains scrapple fried in butter (nothing else will do), sunny-side-up eggs so that the scrapple can be sauced with runny egg yolk, and ketchup. (You may want to take an extra dose of your cholesterol medication that morning – just kidding, of course.)
The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink (Oxford University Press, 2007, page 529) has a comprehensive treatise on scrapple. The dish is the descendant of European pork puddings. What makes it American is the use of cornmeal, but grits and buckwheat may also be used. The Pennsylvania Dutch called it pawnhas before it was called scrapple, and the origin of the word “scrapple” remains cloaked in mystery and controversy. For a long time it was a regional specialty, but more recently it has been distributed throughout the country.
There is also some discussion about ingredients. Traditional recipes call for pork neck bones cooked until the meat is ready to fall off, or pig knuckles, and other pig parts. I discourage you from reading the ingredient list on packages of commercial scrapple; it is reminiscent of the ingredient list for Mexican chorizo. If you can’t find commercial scrapple, it is easy to make a close semblance of the real thing in your own kitchen. If you have a favorite sausage recipe, you can make the scrapple even better by using your home-made sausage. After you have eaten your fill of freshly made scrapple, you can freeze any extra and use it whenever you have a craving for fried eggs and scrapple with ketchup.
A technical note: I used two large (9×5 inch) bread pans but medium (8½x4½ inch) would also work.
- 2½ quarts water
- 1 pound sausage, homemade or commercial
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground sage
- red pepper flakes (optional)
- additional salt and pepper to taste
- butter for greasing bread pans
- In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Break up the sausage into chunks and drop into the boiling water. Return to the boil, and with a wooden spoon break up the sausage into fine lumps as it cooks. Fat will float to the top, but don’t worry. It will get incorporated into the mixture and help it to hold together when it cools and when it is fried.
- When the sausage is cooked and well-dispersed, whisk in the cornmeal very slowly . With a wire whisk, whisk vigorously to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce heat to the simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and the cornmeal is well cooked.
- Add salt, sage and optional red pepper flakes. Adjust seasoning and remove from the heat.
- Pour the slightly cooled mixture into two buttered bread pans ( large or medium will do)
- Completely cool the scrapple-filled bread pans. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill overnight in the refrigerator.
- The next day, run a knife around the edge of the chilled loaves of scrapple to remove from the pan. Cut into blocks to be wrapped in plastic film and aluminum foil for freezing.
- Use fresh, or thaw the appropriate amount when you are ready to use. Cut into ½ inch slices. Fry in melted butter until browned on both sides.
- Serve while still hot with fried eggs and ketchup.
Sausage and cornmeal mixture cooking
Chilled scrapple ready for slicing
Bread pans filled with scrapple mixture
Chilled scrapple cut into blocks
Slices of scrapple frying in butter
Fried egg, scrapple and ketchup
I have been doing almost all of our grocery shopping for over five years. In fact, my wife says that she no longer remembers her way around the aisles of our local supermarket. My buying habits are different from those of my wife – not so different that she wants to resume the chore of shopping – but a little idiosyncratic. It may have come from our days of living in Utah, but I try to make sure that we have enough extras of just about everything so that we won’t run out in case of a natural disaster or the unannounced visit of all of our relatives.
On top of that, being a thrifty shopper, I take advantage of bargains, so when there is a toofer- one, or even better a three-for-one sale I can’t resist. One result of this practice is that our freezer has become packed with packages of meat, poultry, and fish.
Periodically my wife stacks all of the frozen goods on the kitchen counter and issues an ultimatum, “Get rid of all of this before you buy any more.” I am currently working under one of those early warning messages. Today’s recipe is the result of my efforts and is based upon my wondering about what to do with a package of ground turkey that has been languishing at the bottom of the freezer compartment for months. Part of the reason for that is that I am not a big fan of ground turkey. Another reason is that I can’t think of anything to make with it.
So, with some frozen ground beef that was also in the freezer, I decided to make meatloaf. Now I know that everyone who reads this blog is likely to have his or her own favorite meatloaf recipe, and I also know that most readers are looking for ways to make something fancy, exotic, complicated, or all of those things.
Sorry, I hope that you will bear with me on this one, because the meatloaf turned out pretty good – that meaning you couldn’t taste the ground turkey. The best part was that there was enough left over for cold meatloaf and ketchup sandwiches the next day. And after all, that’s the reason most folks make meatloaf in the first place.
- Tear the French bread into pieces and put in the bowl of a food processor. Process into coarse crumbs and then transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the milk to the bread crumbs and let stand for 5 minutes until the milk is completely absorbed.
- Stir in the eggs, ketchup, chili sauce, onion, parsley, salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, bay leaf, and lemon juice.
- Then add the ground turkey and ground beef. With a large spoon or, better, your freshly washed and dried hands, mix the ingredients until they are well combined.
- If you are a perfectionist, brown a small ball of the mixture in a small hot skillet, taste, and correct the seasonings. If you are more casual, like me, pack the meatloaf mixture into a large (9x5x2½ inch) greased bread pan.
- Arrange the bacon strips on top of the meatloaf so that it is completely covered. You may have to cut the bacon strips into pieces to do that.
- Cover with foil and bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 300°F (150°C) for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the foil and place the loaf under the broiler until the bacon is brown and crisp.
- Remove from the oven, cool for 5 minutes, cut into ½ inch slices, and serve.
Ready for the oven
Baked with crisp bacon on top