Sunday, February 10, 2013

Scrapple (Gluten Free)

Scrapple is a mush made of pork bits and cornmeal, which is allowed to congeal, and then fried in butter. I had actually never eaten it before, although I had heard of it. Wikipedia says it is a country dish  that hails from rural Pennsylvania. "It is arguably the first pork food invented in America," Wikipedia informs us.
It is traditionally eaten for breakfast, although the Delaware State Fair does feature a scrapple sandwich.
Here is a picture of scrapple with an accompaniment of scrambled eggs. Wikipedia also says scrapple is made from "offal", .i.e. pigs' guts. Thankfully, this recipe is made from outer parts, notably, pigs' knuckles. If, like me, you picture a pig punching someone out--giving them a "knuckle sandwich, if you will, and say to yourself, "What the hell? Pigs don't have knuckles," relax. What butchers refer to as pigs' knuckles, we laymen might identify as pigs' ankles. It's the part just above the trotter. Here is a picture.

Pigs' knuckles can also be thought of as uncured ham hocks. The cook boils these meaty little bundles along with a pound of lean pork and some red pepper flakes for two hours, until the meat falls off the bone. I cut the recipe in half because I didn't know how it would be received. (My husband actually liked it a lot!) So, I used two pork chops as the half pound of lean pork. I think it would be better to buy some pork shoulder or something. The pork chop hardened after two hours of boiling.
The recipe also instructs us to grind the meat. Food processor! Takes only a few seconds. As to the cooking, if you want scrapple to be gluten free, just skip the step that instructs you to dredge it in flour before frying. However, be aware that scrapple tends to stick like mad to the frying pan during the cooking process. So, either use a non stick pan that has not been ruined by careless cooks like the Berkshire Farmer, or use a metal pan, so you can scrape the sticky bits up when you turn the slices of scrapple. One of the nicest things about scrapple is its lovely crisp crust. Without said crust, what  you have is pork bits mixed up in cornmeal mush, which is not entirely tasty. So, try to get the crust when you are frying.
 One more thing, when you set out to make this, check and see if you  have sage. I didn't, which made the scrapple somewhat underseasoned.


4 large or six small pigs' knuckles
1 pound lean pork
3 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
1 hot red pepper or two teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon leaf sage, rubbed between the fingers
2 1/4 cups yellow corn meal
flour (Omit, if you want gluten free scrapple)
melted butter or meat drippings

1. Place the knuckles, pork, water, salt and red pepper in a large kettle. Bring to a boil and simmer gently about two hours, or until meat is tender. (Simmer gently means boil a little bit. There should be a few bubbles, but not a lot.)
2. Remove the meat from the knuckles and grind meat along with the pork.
3. Skim off the fat from the top of the broth. Measure the broth and return two quarts to the kettle. Reserve remaining broth. Add ground meat, the black pepper and sage to kettle. Bring to a rapid boil.
4. Cool one quart reserved broth to lukewarm. Combine with the corn meal and add to boiling meat mixture. (Don't do this. Keep all the broth in the kettle and sprinkle the cornmeal on the boiling broth a little at a time. It will mix in better.) Cook, stirring, until thickened. 
5. Place the kettle over an asbestos mat (You probably will  not have one of these. Just turn the gas way down.) and continue to cook slowly, stirring, thirty minutes.
6. Adjust the seasonings. Turn mixture into two lightly oiled 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans. Cover and chill.
7. To serve, cut loaves into one-half-inch-thick slices. Coat lightly with flour and brown in melted butter or drippings. Makes one dozen servings. 

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