Culinary Pen
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Heritage Scrapple

Written By Culinary Pen on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 | 8:10:00 PM

In William Woys Weaver's Sauerkraut Yankees, he mentions that the Pennsylvania Dutch used a much different cornmeal than we get today. Their cornmeal is always roasted, giving it a dark color and rich, sweet flavor. Poking around a small, local grocery store, I was rewarded with a bag of Brisner's Best, a delightfully antiquated-looking bag of just such an old fashioned corn meal. I cooked it up into a polenta-like mush for serving with pork tenderloin, but felt this wasn't exactly a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch use for their meal. So what could be more traditional than scrapple?To make this an even more traditional "heritage scrapple," I used half of a Gloucester Old Spot hog head. I love the look of these pigs and think they might be a good breed of hog for Carla and I to raise. They're a hearty, heritage breed, but they don't take as long to grow as the Mangalitsa hogs. They still produce a good deal of fat (but not as much as the lovely Mangalitsa), and they're a long-bodied breed, so they produce a long loin and good side of bacon. Plus they have these cute, over-sized floppy ears! Supposedly they were bred to have big ears to protect their eyes while rooting among rocks and sticks for food.So this scrapple was pretty straight forward - the head is boiled with stock vegetables to produce a broth, then the head is removed and the meat separated from the skull and chopped. A thick mush is made from cornmeal and broth, then blended with spices and the head meat. This mush is poured into greased loaf tins, then set to cool overnight in the fridge. The next morning, it's time to slice and fry! For me, the cornmeal really stood out, frying up easily and giving the scrapple a full, sweet flavor. I'm not sure how much I noticed the Old Spot's head making a difference, as it was more of a supporting role to enrich the cornmeal patties.

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