Do you like bacon? Pancakes? Crispy, browned things cooked on a griddle? Maple syrup? Of course you do, so fasten your seatbelt and come aboard Alan’s organ train, because we’re traveling to scrapple country.
if you like offal, shoot, even if you don’t partake in the finer parts (sucks air through teeth) if you’ve never had scrapple, you’re in for a serious treat. I’ve cooked a lot of organ meat, and I can tell you, over the years I’ve found different tricks here and there for making things palatable, but ooooh baby! Scrapple is one of the finest.
If you’re not familiar, scrapple is a sort of Pennsylvania Dutch specialty with an absolute cult following from the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S.. Undoubtedly born of the pork harvest like it’s grain-laden cousin black sausage and probably just about every product that comes out of a traditional boucherie harvest (offal recipes used immediately after butchering–not including meat since it needs to hang and dry out) scrapple is one of the kings of offal usage, and once you get the basic jist down you can modify it and tweak things however to suit your needs.
What is it exactly? Besides a genius triumph of enterophagy, it’s essentially a thick porridge of buckwheat and cornmeal mixed with spices and ground organs, typically liver, but often with other things too. For our purposes here, I’ve designed the recipe for any and all organ meats. I’ve done the work testing and tweaking, so all you need to do is plug and play whatever 14 oz of organs you have into the basic formula, and be on your way.
Great scrapple starts with a great stock
A note on cooking liquid. Like most scrapples I researched, mine starts out with a base of rich meat stock, and if you want a really good one, you need it–no compromise there. The reason is that, while the cornmeal and buckwheat will definitely firm up the scrapple, meat stock that’s been long-cooked to extract collagen from bones will add an extra layer of “firmness”, giving you more control when you’re slicing, and lending extra layers of nuance and body to the finished product. If you have to, you can use some BS canned stock, but soup bones, neck bones, or any sort of bone with meat attached will be the best. As I note in the recipe though, if you have some leftover meat you can just chop that and toss it in, too–you don’t need a lot.
Once the scrapple is made and cooled comes the fun part: eating. The scrapple gets cut into slices, then fried crispidity-crisp, and, if you want to be traditional, served for breakfast with maple syrup. The syrup might sound odd, but the spices in the scrapple help the pairing, and if you’ve ever had a plate of steaming hot pancakes with bacon on the side, you’ll be no stranger to a little sweetness in the savory realm. Trust me, it’s eaten with a touch of maple for a reason. That being said, as I ate through a number of different loaves, I did find some hot sauce was a good change of pace here and there. At your house, you choose what you put on your scrapple.
- Loaf pan
- 14 oz liver or a blend of organs like liver, kidney, and heart cut into medium-sized chunks
- 1 10 oz chunk of bone with meat attached such as a lamb or deer shank, or soup bones. Or substitute 4 ounces of cooked meat.
- 2 cups fine cornmeal
- ¼ cup buckwheat flour
- ½ cup yellow onion diced small
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 6 cups water
- 2 tablespoons lard or cooking oil
- Maple syrup small amounts for serving (optional)
- 1.5 teaspoons spice mix follows
- Spice Mix
- ¾ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground allspice
- Cover soup bones or shank with the water, cover with a lid, then simmer or bake at 300 for 2 hours or until very tender. Chill the shank and spleen until cool enough to handle. Reserve the cooking liquid, there should be exactly 4 cups, if there isn’t add enough water or stock to make up the difference.
- Remove the meat from the shank bone, trim the spleen with a sharp paring knife, then put the spleen, liver and shank in a meat grinder, or puree in a food processor until fine. Sweat the meat mixture to evaporate the water in a saute pan for 2-3 minutes, then reserve, and allow to cool, covered.
- Meanwhile, Whisk the cornmeal and buckwheat flour with the salt and spices, and combine with the 4 cups of cooking liquid in a saucepot big enough to hold it. Heat the mixture, whisking constantly until it thickens, then turn the heat down to low and cook for 15 minutes.
- Add the cooked meat to the cornmeal mixture, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking on the bottom for another 30 minutes. You can also bake the mixture at 300 for 30 minutes, or until very thick, as long as it’s covered.
- When the mixture is very solid and the cornmeal is well cooked, pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan, there may be a small amount of excess. Chill the scrapple, uncovered on a counter until room temperature, then refrigerate until completely set before slicing.
- To serve the scrapple, cut ½ inch slices and fry until crisp on both sides, and serve for breakfast or lunch, with maple syrup on the side, if desired.