Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Scrapple is a dish whose origins go back to the Pennsylvania Dutch settlers of the 1600s and 1700s. Consisting of pork and cornmeal moistened with broth, the scrapple is seasoned with various spices, formed into loaves, and allowed to cool and set in the refrigerator. Before serving, the scrapple is unmolded, cut into ½-inch (1.25 cm) slices, and panfried in butter, bacon drippings, or oil.

Scrapple, as its name suggests, was originally created to make use of whatever parts of the pig remained after the larger, more desirable parts were cut from the carcass. Offal, skin, and small shreds of meat scraped from the skull and bones would find their way into the scrapple pot. Modern cooks — or those without a pig carcass at hand — may use various other cuts of pork, including pork shoulder, pork butt, or even lean ground pork, to make their scrapple.

Cornmeal is almost always used for the base of scrapple, but individual cooks occasionally replace it with oatmeal or even barley. Onions, salt, pepper, sage, mace, thyme, marjoram, savory, and cayenne pepper are typically added in some combination to season the mush.

Scrapple’s long shelf life was much valued by the colonial-era Pennsylvania Dutch settlers, who had no means of keeping their foodstuffs cold other than sinking them into streams or half-buried ice houses. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were both said to have been fans of scrapple’s charms, the latter having developed a taste for the dish during his visits to Philadelphia.

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