In a recent blog post about my grandparents' 75th anniversary, I mentioned that I decided to try my hand at making scrapple. Grandpa Hess had fried some for us when I was “up home” a week or so ago. He might even have learned the recipe from his German immigrant grandparents in Pennsylvania. By now most of you are wondering what in the world it is. Scrapple is a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch (which is actually German) recipe made from broth, scraps of meat, spices, and cornmeal. The ingredients are cooked, spooned into a bread loaf pan, chilled to set, sliced, and then fried to a crispy golden brown. Yum! I have always eaten homemade turkey scrapple when visiting my grandparents. It has always been a “comfort food” for me, reminding me of home and family. I didn’t know how to make it before now, so I purchased Rapa brand pork scrapple while I was in college, and then for Christmas breakfast since I’ve had my own family. But now I decided I wanted to make my own!
I knew I faced a daunting learning curve, and that I likely wouldn’t get it right the first time, especially since I wasn’t making it under the direct supervision of any scrapple experts. I had asked Grandpa for a recipe but he said he didn’t use one. He found one in a cookbook, but I forgot to copy it down. I did jot down some pointers and proportions that my mom’s cousin Priscilla Perry shared with me at the anniversary party. She uses a ratio of 3 parts liquid/meat to 1 part cornmeal and/or buckwheat. She prefers Bell’s poultry seasoning in the yellow box, along with herbs such as rosemary, sage, and thyme. That's Priscilla (in the middle) and her daughter Margaret with me in the photograph. Wonderful people!
This past Saturday morning back in Florida, I roasted a turkey in my big blue porcelain roaster and set it to cool on the stovetop so I could debone it later. My husband Thad saw it there and kindly did the dirty work for me. He threw away the giblets, which I had intended to use, but who am I to complain about that after all of the service he gave? He even separated it into white and dark meat, and put the broth in a separate container. What a guy! What I didn’t use for the scrapple, I saved for two turkey pot pies and a plastic bag of white meat to put in the freezer.
Next, I pureed some of the dark meat with the broth in the blender, and dumped it into the pot with the cornmeal, a can of chicken broth, some water, and various spices. I couldn’t find the Bell’s brand of poultry seasoning, but I already had the Spice Island brand in my cupboard anyway. I also decided to use some Miracle Blend no-salt herbal seasoning, thyme, and a generous amount of rotisserie chicken seasoning. Don’t ask me how much I used of each of the ingredients, because I was adding a little here, a little there, just like Grandpa would do! I did turn out a little on the salty side, so I could have used less rotisserie chicken seasoning.
I’m not expecting that all of you will want to run out and buy a turkey to make scrapple after reading this, but maybe you will think about how you can adapt your ancestor’s traditions in your own home. Or maybe you will take a risk and try doing something new to stretch your horizons. As with most of life, you don’t have to get it exactly right the first time. Like our inventive and visionary forebears who made this country great, you do have to be willing to use trial-and-error – and then just do it!
My aunt Nancy Allen added this information…
Candy Hess (who is about my age even though she is the wife of my mom’s cousin, and who is also a very sweet friend who has gone out of her way to bless our family) wrote this...