Southern Breakfastsouthern scrapple

(Makes 18-24 slices)

A traditional American pork and cornmeal dish kindly provided by Janet Riehl, author of Sightlines: a Poet's Diary.*

2 lb. pork shoulder (or pork butt)
1 whole fresh pork hock
2 C yellow cornmeal
1 T salt

Preparation: Cut pork into 2-inch chunks. Place pork chunks and pork hock in a stockpot and cover with water. Simmer until meat falls apart (2-3 hrs.) Drain and reserve stock.

Pull meat from bone and chop with knife or food processor Be careful not to grind it too fine. Set aside.

Measure 5 cups of the cooking stock and return to pot. Bring to a simmer; add meat, cornmeal, and salt. Stir constantly until thick and smooth, about 15-30 minutes.

Final: Pour mixture into two 9"x 5" loaf pans and refrigerate until completely chilled. Unmold scrapple. Slice and fry on both sides until golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately. Or, instead of chilling as a loaf, simply cook on stovetop and serve as cornmeal mush.

* See our Reading Guide for Janet Riehl's Sightlines and visit Janet's blog, Riehl Life.


Notes from Erwin Arthur Riehl, Janet’s 93-year-old father:

Our family recipe comes from the Riehls, my maternal grandparents who raised me as their own child. They migrated to Illinois from Germany in the 1880s.

When hogs were butchered at home, back in my growing up years, we carved out the cuts of meat such as shoulders, hams, bacon, and chops. There were always scraps, and we used them for scrapple.

I recommend scrapple as a delicacy fit for kings. But it is hard on the calorie counters!

| See more Southern recipes |


Tips & Glossary

Basic southern cuisine differs from its Cajun, Creole, and Southwestern cousins in its lack of hot spices. As a result, it's rich but mild—the ultimate in comfort food!

Crabmeat: meat from the body, legs or claws of numerous varieties of crab. Most prized is jumbo lump from the hind leg. But for crab cakes and casseroles, use regular lump, as well as finback from the body. Claw meat is brown and stronger flavored, though also good for crab recipes. Buy it fresh if you can.

Greens: a staple in Southern cooking, they're in the cabbage family and include kale, collards, turnip, spinach, and mustard greens. Usually served with black-eyed peas and cornbread to sop up the pot likker.

Grits: another staple of Southern cooking: coarsely ground corn, cooked as porridge. Once cooked, grits are served plain, baked in a casserole, fried or deep-fried as a fritter. (Think polenta.)

Pie Crust: store bought crusts are fine. But for the skilled (or more daring) among you, make your own. Here's our recipe—Noel's Pie Crust.

Yams: a type of sweet potato with an elongated shape and deep orange flesh. A true yam is grown in Africa and Asia is actually quite different from what Americans call yams.


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