We know what you guys are thinking, but we are not playing a joke on you -- we actually really like scrapple. This mid-Atlantic delicacy, like so many other regional food traditions, was born of the desire to combat wastefulness. Scrapple is exactly what it sounds like -- scraps -- usually pork-based, but sometimes beef as well. And we happen to have eaten a few versions of it that were absolutely delicious.
After a pig is butchered, there's a lot of stuff left over, the kind of stuff we usually refer to as offal. As we have already shouted from the rooftops countless times (and will no doubt continue to do over and over again) even though offal can be scary, lots of people all around you are eating because it tastes really good. For scrapple, these offal bits are cooked down into a stew, ground up with the other leftover bits of meat and combined with cornmeal for texture. This mixture is then cooled down into a loaf, sliced and griddled to serve. Scrapple is usually eaten for breakfast with eggs and potatoes. Here's how it looks:
If you're thinking to yourself, "that kind of looks like toast made out of meat" -- EXACTLY.
So why do we love this stuff that exists in our collective lexicon as something really, really gross? A few reasons. Firstly, we really admire the desire to waste nothing, to be thankful for the food in front of us, and to make the most of what we have. Secondly, if you can put your preconceived notions of this stuff aside, you are essentially getting to eat a pork burger with your breakfast.
If you live outside Pennsylvania and the surrounding mid-Atlantic area, you may not have come across this crispy slab of meat yet, but you might soon. Scrapple is becoming more popular than ever as chefs and cooks across the country continue to focus on heritage processes and limiting waste (we've tried particularly excellent versions at Egg and Diner, both in Williamsburg, Brooklyn).
What do you think of scrapple? Love it? Hate it? Willing to give it a try? Let us know in the comments! (We'd especially love to hear from you if you've ever tried your hand at making scrapple yourself.)