In early December we had our pigs slaughtered on the farm as we feel that is the least stressful way for animals to be respectfully killed. Since these pigs are for personal use we were able to butcher them at home. We try to utilize as much of the animals as possible. Rebecca’s grandfather Willard Beidler was a butcher in Pennsylvania, and passed along some of his skills to her father. We are grateful that he can lead us through the butchering process and slowly we are becoming more comfortable with it, so we can be more independent in the future. One strategy for whole hog utilization is to make scrapple. Just as it sounds, scrapple is a way to turn the scraps into a more desirable meat product, Pennsylvania Dutch style. In order to fit more pork into the freezer my Dad’s strategy is to de-bone most of the meat cuts. You are then left with a lot of bones that have meat still attached that is hard to get completely clean. The bones, some organ meats and any other parts of the animal that are less desirable for straight up eating can be turned into scrapple. There is grain added to the mix, so your end result is a sliceable loaf something like meaty polenta. It is most commonly sliced thin, fried until crispy and eaten at breakfast or lunch with a touch of apple butter.
Here are the basic steps, recipe follows:
- Put all of your bones and meat scraps in a big pot and cover with water. Boil until the meat is falling off the bones.
- Strain off the hot broth and save. Cool the bones until easily handled, then pick off the bones and set aside the meat.
- Put the meat through a meat grinder.
- Measure out your broth and heat to boiling in a big, heavy bottomed pot
- Pre-mix cornmeal and buckwheat with broth or water until it has a batter like consistency. (this is one of those feeling measurements, not exact. Some years we used water for this, then felt we needed to add in some fat later, so if you have plenty of broth then utilizing some at this stage adds a little extra fat)
- Stir cornmeal/buckwheat porridge into boiling broth and stir with a sturdy stick or spoon constantly until it comes back to a boil.
- Add ground meat into the boiling mix. Keep stirring- it will get really thick, so it is nice to have two people so someone can keep the pot steady. At this point add the seasonings and adjust to your liking. If the mix seems very runny at this point you can add some additional flour, traditionally this would be done with wheat flour. The mix will get really thick and should come away from the sides of the pot and the paddle should be able to remain straight up without holding when done.
- Turn off the heat. Scoop the scrapple porridge into loaf pans about 4 inches thick, they can be various sizes. Let cool until firm (for us this process is easiest done in the winter when we have a “cooler” outside).
- When scrapple is firm flip it out of the loaf pans onto a cutting board. Cut into portions that make sense for your family, wrap and freeze or slice and fry. I usually cut them into about 4inch cubes for freezing.
Here is the basic scrapple recipe based on Willard Beidler’s original dictations, and standardized a bit over the 3 years we have been making it. For the two pigs we processed we ended up with 20# of meat from cooking down the bones and adding in some extra parts such as tongues, heart, kidneys and jowls. So we made three batches of the recipe below, which turned into 75# of scrapple!
2 1/2c buckwheat flour
4 T black pepper
3 T salt
2 T coriander
We’d like to thank Leonard and Beatrice, the pigs that gave us so much good work , good food, and fertility on the farm this year!