The fall seems to always bring out the desire in me for comfort food. Perhaps, the cooler temperatures have me wanting something more hearty than my preferred light summer cuisine. Perhaps, wonderful memories of fun family-centered falls of the past have me wanting my Mom’s cooking. Whatever it is, my husband must have some of the same craving for comfort food as we recently ended up buying one of his home state favorites, scrapple.
Not familiar with scrapple? I think it could be called the “gray meat.” However, it would not be 100 percent accurate to call it meat as it also contains some corn meal and flour. Like many other meat products (various sausages, for example), scrapple was/is a product of using leftover bits of meat and not waste anything.
Exactly what bits are used seems to be dependent upon regional and even family differences. Many “recipes” call for using the head, hocks, and feet of the hog; however, I imagine that there are all sorts of variations of this theme.
It is most popular in the Mid-Atlantic region of Western Maryland, Delaware, Western Pennsylvania, and Southern New Jersey. It is also popular in areas with larger Amish and Mennonite communities.
As I no longer live in one of those areas, I was able to find it in an area supermarket. It is now available in frozen form in various parts of the United States and maybe even beyond. We bought Jones Dairy Farm brand and, according to their web site, scrapple is part of their international products line. The oddest part to me is the fact that this company is making scrapple in Wisconsin, but I am guessing it is for the same reason scrapple was made from the beginning…to make use of all the hog.
My husband likes scrapple sliced very thin and cooked very crispy. Apparently, it is often sliced about 1/4″ to 3/4″ thick and fried in a grease or oil. I sliced it less than 1/4″ thick and fried it in a nonstick pan without any oil. When cooked, it goes from the gray color to a more appetizing rich, golden brown.
Scrapple is often served for breakfast. It may be eaten with condiments ranging from maple syrup to ketchup. My husband likes it with applesauce, so I fixed it for dinner with some fresh, quick chunky applesauce.
I know of a few other regional foods that are close relatives to scrapple:
There is livermush and liver pudding in North Carolina. I am a little confused about the differences between the two except there is a river that divides them. I think they are more liver laden than scrapple and liver pudding may not contain corn meal.
In the greater Cincinnati, Ohio area, there is goetta. To me, goetta is the “other gray meat.” Goetta is like scrapple but made with steel cut or similar oats instead of cornmeal.
Although it is found in other forms, it is often cooked and served the same way as scrapple.
Scrapple is not high on my healthiest proteins list. However, it will make an occasional appearance on my table as a comfort food treat…with apples and oatmeal to balance it out.