Traditional Scrapple Recipe

Think of this homemade scrapple recipe as a playground for leftover meat trimmings.

article image
by Adobestock/Amelia
1 hour DURATION
40 minutes COOK TIME
20 minutes PREP TIME
1 loaf SERVINGS

Ingredients

  • 48 ounces pork trimmings, or scraps still clinging to roasted or boiled bones
  • 10 ounces pork heart or liver
  • 6 ounces bacon ends, chopped
  • 0.4 ounce rubbed sage
  • 0.4 ounce dried thyme
  • 1 ounce salt, sea or kosher
  • 0.3 ounce freshly ground black pepper
  • Maple syrup, to taste
  • 12 or more ounces cornmeal or buckwheat flour

Directions

  • Prepare a loaf pan by oiling it lightly and then lining it with plastic wrap or parchment paper, so the liner extends over the edge of the pan. Set aside.
  • In a large stockpot, cover the meat, organs, and bones with cold water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cover the stockpot with a lid. Cook until tender. Strain and reserve the stock, and set aside the cooked meat, organs, and bones to cool. Then, pull the meat from the bones and shred into a bowl. Add the bacon ends. Stir in the spices and maple syrup.
  • Return the stock to the pot and heat it, then stir in the cornmeal or buckwheat flour until you develop a thick mixture. The stirring spoon should be able to stand up on its own. Once you've achieved the desired consistency, add the seasoned meat mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. Pack into prepared loaf pan and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, turn out and slice. Dredge slices in flour and then fry in butter or oil before serving.
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What’s in scrapple? This traditional scrapple recipe allows you to feed your family with leftover meat trimmings and scraps in a tasty and satisfying way.

Think of this recipe as a playground for leftover meat trimmings. As for what’s in scrapple, you can change the seasonings, consistency, and even the meat ingredients. For example, my traditional scrapple recipe includes not only fresh pork and liver, but also bacon ends. Scrapple can be frozen. The best way to keep it in the freezer is packed in jars, or packaging the loaves under a vacuum seal.

a slice of fried pork scrapple on a bed of wilted greens and topped with a fried egg.

Eating less meat and wasting less food doesn’t have to trigger a mindset of sacrifice. Food preservation studies show us that some of the most delicious preparations of meat and fat also reduce waste and overconsumption. As we continue to redevelop what constitutes a nourishing diet in a warming world with an over-consolidated food system, how can we change the dialogue toward flavor and positivity, rather than skimping and scarcity? We can begin by looking to our ancestors, who laid the foundation for responsible and participatory omnivory. Scrapple is one of their most ingenious approaches, and you can prepare this traditional scrapple recipe in your own kitchen.

What’s in Scrapple?

Scrapple uses leftover meat trimmings or scrap meat from bones, plus some nutritious organ meat and spices, to produce a hearty meal in the form of a loaf held together with a starch, such as cornmeal or buckwheat flour. Scrapple was developed by the Pennsylvania Dutch, a group of German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania. They also gave us Lebanon bologna, a salami-like sausage that’s been cured, smoked, and fermented. Equivalent preparations to scrapple include liver mush in the South and goetta in the Midwest.

scrapple ingredients measured and collected in bowls.

Scrapple and its cousins aren’t sausage, because the meat isn’t ground, and the preparation is much leaner. Scrapple also isn’t headcheese or souse (a type of headcheese), because the chief binder is starch rather than gelatin via aspic. Scrapple and its brethren are a different entity, distinguishable by regional variations, but similar at their foundation. Even if your lips curl up at the notion of liver mush, I invite you to read on. Omnivores need to overcome our strange aversion to whole-animal meat products simply because we don’t know how to prepare or consume them. I’m about to convince you that despite what’s in scrapple, scrapple is delicious, and share my traditional scrapple recipe that will be open to your culinary embellishments.

Many of us make stock and bone broth all the time. Inevitably, we end up with meat bits in the stockpot after a nice long simmer. We can put these leftover meat trimmings in a soup, but, speaking for myself, there are only so many soup dinners my family will endure. Scrapple is a superb alternative meal for those juicy, tender bits. If you prefer scrapple on the meatier side, you can start with a whole muscle and boil it until the meat falls apart. Some butchers I know meticulously clean the bones after they’ve finished with seam butchery, and then use all those trimmings in scrapple. Liver mush recipes sometimes call for a whole pig’s head, and all the meat and fat it offers.

chopping liver into bite-sized pieces with a knife

Your own homemade scrapple recipe can be as scrappy as your end goal. You’ll have to adjust the amount of starch needed to hold the pile together: The more meat and fat, the less cornmeal or flour; the less meat and fat and the more organ meat, the more starch. I’ve provided a guided traditional scrapple recipe to get you started, but fear not in developing your own variations. Although my recipe calls for pork, you should experiment with other species, adjusting the seasonings to match.

Traditional Scrapple Recipe

The basic scrapple-making process involves boiling the meat with the organ components until tender, and then straining and cooling — but be sure to reserve the stock. Next, you’ll chop and shred the meat, organs, and fat until you get a mixable pile. After that, it’s time to season. Traditional spices include thyme, sage, clove, allspice, and black pepper, plus 1-1/2 to 2% salt by weight of the combined meat, fat, organs, and starch. However, you should season as you please, adjusting for holidays or special events to vary the ongoing appeal of your homemade scrapple.

hand-shredding cooked meat into a metal bowl.

The next step is to mix the starch into the reserved meat stock, stirring it in gradually until it develops into a thick mixture. This will typically require 10 to 15% buckwheat flour or cornmeal, by the combined weight of all ingredients. After the stock-starch mixture has thickened, combine it with the seasoned meat.

Pour this mixture into a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment to aid in releasing the scrapple out of the loaf pan later. Rap the filled loaf pan against the countertop a few times to remove air pockets. Cover the pan and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Your scrapple is ready to eat the next morning. The best way is to turn it out of the pan, slice it like a loaf of bread, and then dredge the slices in flour. Heat some butter or a combination of butter and a neutral oil in a skillet until sizzling, and then pan-fry the dredged slice until it’s crispy and golden-brown. To serve, I like to top it with a soft-cooked egg, some skillet-wilted arugula, and a touch of maple syrup.

I’ve also seen scrapple stuffed into bologna-sized casings and sliced on a meat slicer, and I’ve even read of chefs making scrapple waffles in a standard waffle iron and serving them with all manner of delicious toppings.

I grew up with the understanding that meat thrift and processing was synonymous with sludgy eats and scarcity because of what’s in scrapple. This traditional scrapple recipe is one preparation that corrected my attitude into a respect for meat processing as a way to produce densely mouthwatering, mindful inventions out of every last bit of the animal, without sacrificing flavor.


Meredith Leigh is the author of The Ethical Meat Handbook and Pure Charcuterie. She teaches classes in butchery and charcuterie around the globe, and is a sustainable food activist. Follow her at MereLeighFood.