Meet my new favorite breakfast treat. Sorry, SPAM… (But you’ll always be my first!)
Now, I admit I was slow coming around to Scrapple. I first noticed it in the chilled meat section alongside bacon, ham and sausages, when we first lived on the East Coast 10 years ago. The commercial variety did not look very appetizing in its vacuum-sealed package — kind of gray and stodgy. I took it for an evolutionary relative of SPAM — a colonial-era processed meat product. And since I was already a SPAM aficionado, I figured I did not need another processed meat product in my life. And so for the 2 years we lived near Boston, we never touched the stuff.
After we returned to the East Coast a couple of years ago, we attended a festival in Pennsylvania where the local Lions Club was selling fresh local bacon and sausage. And Scrapple, made right on site. The sight of the large vats of corn mush were enough to draw me in, but the heavenly aroma of spice and pork decided it for me — we had to try the Scrapple.
But what exactly is Scrapple? Well as you can see from the photo on the left, my earlier assumption about scrapple was wrong — it’s not a processed meat product at all, but rather a cornmeal mush mixed with heavily seasoned pork broth made with the offal from hog butchering (“everything but the oink”). The culinary ancestor of SPAM actually may be something that’s called “Country Pudding” around here — a loaf of seasoned pork bits strained from the offal broth, with little or no starch filler. So Pudding is the loaf-shaped pork bits, and Scrapple the pork-flavored corn mush (think “polenta”). What’s not to like?! And one can feel a little better about choosing Scrapple over SPAM (well, I do anyway) since it has half the amount of sodium (369mg vs. 767mg) and half the “calories from fat” (70mg vs. 137mg) than its more famous cousin.
Where did it come from? Apparently Scrapple originated with the German immigrants who settled this area in the late 17th and early 18th centuries and became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch (probably a corruption of the word Deutsch). You can also find scrapple sold as “Pon Haus,” a derivation of Panhas, a meat and meal (usually flour and buckwheat, but sometimes rye) terrine or fresh Wurst that is a specialty of the Westphalia and Rhine regions of Germany. You can see from the German Wikipedia link that Panhas doesn’t look much like Scrapple!
I pan-fry Scrapple the same way I do SPAM — browned well and crispy on the outside and creamy/juicy on the inside. With warm apple slices and soft scrambled eggs, it’s a hearty, lick-your-plate-clean brunch with or without the maple syrup. I recommend “with”…
If you’re not at a festival or hog butchering where it is freshly made, your next best bet is to try Scrapple from a local butcher. This one is sold by the slice as Pon Haus from Hoffman’s Quality Meats in nearby Hagerstown, MD, but is available at area grocery stores too. This came from Giant Eagle.
Want a bite?