I’ve previously referred to how my cooking interests follow a similar cyclical approach to flight patterns. When you live near an airport, sometimes your home is under the pattern for a few weeks, then it just goes away and you barely notice. The potential for scrapple to be made with other primary ingredients than hog innards is an idea I’ve been thinking about about a lot recently. I’ve mostly been focused on how I can use scrapple to hide vegetables from Janet and package them in a crispy form that she has shown a love for in the past. Parenting is mostly about deception and force feeding.
A couple weeks ago a friend from business school asked about ways to add meat to an infant’s diet which made me think of the subject of this post. I think of this as chicken scrapple, but as my wedding caterer said, scrapple is just pork polenta, so you could really think of this as chicken polenta too. My main goal was to make something that was close enough to regular scrapple that I still enjoyed it but also use ingredients Kristi would be willing to consume. It all started with a couple chicken breasts and four thighs, all skin on and bone-in.
Each piece got a little drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of butcher salt then headed into a 450F oven to brown. After just over 10 minutes I had this.
The chicken and grease all headed into the stockpot with some celery, a halved onion, a bay leaf, smashed garlic cloves, sea salt, and black pepper.
The idea was to make a stock in the process of cooking the chicken that would give the scrapple lots of flavor when mixed with the corn meal. I added about 10 cups of water to fully cover the contents of the pot then turned the heat on the burner up to high.
I brought the contents of the stock pot up to a low boil then reduced the heat as low as it would go, put the lid on, and let it simmer for an hour.
After an hour I removed all of the meat and aromatics from the cooking liquid and discarded the celery, garlic, bay leaf, and half the onion. The meat all pulled easily off the bones and I separated the chicken into dark and light meat with the cooked skin in the dark meat pile as well.
The broth stayed on the stove uncovered over medium heat to reduce a bit and hopefully concentrate the flavors of the stock.
The white meat I cut into small chunks and then chopped the dark meat, skin, and the half boiled onion down to a minced texture.
At this point the stock had been bubbling and reducing for 15 minutes or so and had a strong flavor and aroma.
With everything prepped, I added a few pinches of dried thyme, sage, and nutmeg to the stock and stirred them in completely. Then slowly started whisking in white ground corn meal until it was too thick to whisk anymore, about 3 cups total. The goal was to get it to a thick cement-like texture, so I switched to a large spoon and stirred in approximately an additional half cup of corn meal. Unfortunately at this point the corn meal needs to cook in the stock for 30 minutes, stirred constantly.
The chopped and minced chicken meat headed into the corn meal and stock along with a couple handfuls of frozen corn and the long half hour of stirring began. Lots of whining and complaining about the pain in my forearm ensued, plus some flexing and making Kristi feel my forearm while pretending I was Robert Irvine or something.
The cornmeal chicken mush got spooned into foil loaf pans that I had previously sprayed with a little Pam to prevent stickage. Although I originally planned on making far less scrapple this time around, I think I made more than last time. But, this one won’t taste like hog liver pudding so I will (hopefully) actually go through it relatively quickly.
After cooling on the counter until they were down to room temperature, I covered each loaf pan with foil and transferred to the fridge to set completely overnight. Once set, each loaf was popped out of its pan, individually bagged, and vacuum sealed for the freezer. But the round one needed to be sliced and eaten the following day (or so I told myself).
The scrapple went into a hot pan with a little olive oil to crisp on both sides, then served traditionally with a couple over-easy eggs.
The scrapple had a lot of flavor and the texture that I love in scrapple; crispy outside with a soft texture inside. It went perfectly with eggs, particularly the rich flavor from the yolks. Not quite as rich and meaty as the pork version, but a decent substitute that might be a little bit better for you (though I am the last person you can trust on that type of assertion).
While eating it with breakfast, I had a thought that it would go equally well as a dinner course as well. So later in the day (and again a week later) I served it griddled crispy with a little sweet & spicy marinara and grated parmesan cheese.
The sweet sauce and the cheese work really well with the scrapple, even if Uncle Timmy thinks it is sacrilege. Stupid nerdface overgrown cucumbers Tim. I will likely use this both ways in the future since this was equally delicious and easy. And, Janet likes it too, which was the original point anyway.
Next week I will get back to those rotten trout parts.