Scrapple, the Alec Baldwin of Mush Meats
I lived in South Jersey until I was 7 yet never tried scrapple despite
its local popularity. I guess I cared more about putting jimmies on my ice cream at that age. So, I had my work cut out for me when writing about this regional breakfast meat made from the ground scraps of pork skins, organs, lips & hiney holes. The offal mixture is cooked down to a gelatinous mush and mixed with varying specks of seasoning. Corn meal and/or buck flour is added to thicken, and the porcine goop is poured into a mold where it settles into a semi firm loaf. It's ultimately sliced and cooked to a crispy perfection. It should be noted that while pork is the traditional scrapple meat, it's not uncommon to find beef, turkey or even venison added.
As I started my research, my pop culture-laden brain couldn't help but recognize; scrapple is the Alec Baldwin of the Mush Meat family. I know that probably sounds bat shit crazy right? Let me explain. There are 4 primary types of American mush meats: goetta, souse, livermush and scrapple, arguably the most popular. Likewise, there are 4 Baldwin brothers, and I think we can all agree Alec is the breakout star.
Both scrapple and Alec are incredibly versatile. Alec can be intensely dramatic but also has impeccable comedic timing. Scrapple can be a savory breakfast side dish drenched in maple syrup alongside a short stack or baked into a deliciously sweet Amish apple & cinnamon cake. Game show host! Chargrilled! You can see it now.
You Probably Prefer the Scrapple Where You Grew Up
Scrapple recipes were brought over to the New World by German and Dutch immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania just West of Philadelphia. But the idea of using every part of the animal, tail to nose, was common practice. This delicious take on recycling all parts of the hog grew and spread throughout the area but seemingly to a limited geographic footprint, from Eastern PA, Maryland, Delaware, South Jersey and Maryland.
Personally, I didn't love my first experience. I appreciated the unique texture, crunchy on the outside with a creamy inside, but to me its intense porky flavor tasted like every free motel breakfast sausage link that spent too much time steaming in a chaffing dish.
But I am by far the minority, because throughout the aforementioned area, it is adored. There are Facebook pages dedicated to it like Scrapple Trail with fans sharing their favorite brands, home cooked versions and the best restaurants to find it. There are also annual festivals held to celebrate this beloved food.
It's also evident that scrapple lovers favor the brands they grew up with. For instance, if you lived in Philly and Northern Delaware as a child, you're likely going to be partial to Habbersett brand who literally states "Philadelphia's Favorite" right on their packaging.
If you were resided on the Eastern Shores of Maryland, there's a good chance that you grew up eating the beefy tasting Greensboro brand, now owned by Rapa, the world's largest supplier of scrapple. Kunzler's in Lancaster PA and practically every butcher and meat market has their own version, with their unique recipes. As a foodie, I know I need to give this breakfast foodigenous another chance. Since hinting I was going to write about this, I've been schooled to the various personal preferences of my readers. Butterflied thin and pan-fried to a golden brown. Thick cut and grilled on a BBQ. Smoked! Deed fried! With mustard, ketchup or even Jelly. I have a lot more to try.
For any meat lover out there, you have to try it at least once. Any vegetarians? Run for the hills!
Oh, and if I had to finish the list- Billy is definitely goetta, right? I totally see Daniel as livermush which unfortunately makes Stephen souse by default.