This & That Thursday ~ Making Pon Haus (otherwise known as Scrapple)

When my husband told me that we would be making pon haus, I did not have a clue what he was talking about. 

"What't that?", I questioned.

"What do you mean?", he replied.  "You've never heard of pon haus?"

Feeling like I must have really missed out on the important things in life I quickly googled it and this is what I found:

Scrapple, also known by the Pennsylvania Dutch name pon haus, is traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour, often buckwheat flour, and spices. The mush is formed into a semi-solid congealed loaf, and slices of the scrapple are then panfried before serving. Scraps of meat left over from butchering, not used or sold elsewhere, were made into scrapple to avoid waste. Scrapple is best known as a regional American food of the Mid-Atlantic States (Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland). Scrapple and pon haus are commonly considered an ethnic food of the Pennsylvania Dutch, including the Mennonites and Amish. Scrapple is found in supermarkets throughout the region in both fresh and frozen refrigerated cases. ~ Wikipedia

The same day we rendered lard, we also made pon haus.  The first thing we had to do was get a big fire going and set the kettle with water in it over the open flame.  When the water began to boil, we added the scraps of meat.  We through the scraps in including bone and even included some of the organ meat. 

After the meat had cooked for several hours and was beginning to fall off the bone, we removed the meat from the broth and deboned it. 

Once the meat was deboned, we ran it through a grinder.

The ground pork was then placed back in the broth in the kettle and placed over the open flame once again.  At this point we added salt and pepper to taste and let it all come back to a rolling boil.

Once the mixture came to a rapid boil, two people stirred while two people began adding cornmeal to the mixture.  The cornmeal had to be added slowly and evenly so as not to clump.  We also added a little flour from time to time. 
As the cornmeal and flour was added (mostly cornmeal with very little flour) the mixture became thicker and thicker and more difficult to stir.  When the experienced folks said that we had enough cornmeal, we then stirred until the mixture boiled down and became extremely thick.  Stirring was not a job for the faint hearted, for if the pon haus stuck to the bottom of the kettle, it would be ruined.  When the pon haus was finally decared to be the right thickness and consistency, we then removed the kettle from the fire and quickly scooped the mixture into small containers.  These containers were left to set for about 24 hours until they became a small loaf. 

I asked my in-laws for a recipe for ponhaus, but they said they had never used a recipe.  They simply went by taste and experience.  They do not add extra spices when they make it, but many folks do add additional spices.  When I tasted the pon haus, in a way it reminded me of cornbread stuffing that we use to make growing up.  (That recipe to be posted at a later date.)  I think I would enjoy adding sage to my pon haus. 

Here is a recipe I found online to make ponhause/scrapple in your kitchen at home in a smaller quantity:



I have finally become a believer. I grew up in Pennsylvania with Scrapple, a popular breakfast meat, all around me. I just could not acquire a taste for it because of some seasoning to which I objected. Not to mention, I never really understood what was in scrapple and therefore bulked at the mushy consistency. When I started the PA Dutch recipe page, I knew I would have to make it one day and get it posted, whether or not I liked it, using scrapple fans as the judges. I found several recipes, gathered ideas from the combination and, lo and behold, the stuff is pretty good. And, much to my surprise, considerably healthier than I ever suspected. To describe it in terms you might better recognize, it is very much like fried polenta. It is mostly corn meal mixed with cooked lean meat and seasonings, poured into loaf pans and refrigerated overnight to stiffen, then sliced and fried in a little butter or oil. Every recipe I found was different in amounts, seasonings and some of the methodology. You will find some of the variations listed below.


One 3-pound bone-in pork butt, trimmed of visible fat

4 quarts water

Salt and pepper to taste

1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons rubbed sage

1 teaspoon ground savory

1/8 teaspoon allspice (start with less)

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (start with less)

1/8 teaspoon cloves

3 cups corn meal

Place the pork and water in an 8-quart stock pot. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer until pork is tender, about 2 hours. Place the meat on a large plate; reserve the stock. When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove it from the bones and discard excess fat. Chop the meat very finely; set aside. (See the Variations below for chopping methods.)

Place 2-1/2 quarts of the stock in a 5-quart pot. Add the thyme, sage, savory, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. Bring to a boil and gradually add the corn meal, stirring or whisking rapidly until it is all combined. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture is very thick, so that a spoon almost stands up by its own, about 15 minutes. (If it gets too thick, just add a little more of the broth and stir well.) Add the meat and stir well to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. After a couple minutes, taste for seasoning and adjust as desired. Scrapple must be well-seasoned or it will taste very bland when fried.

Place a piece of waxed paper into the bottom of two 9x5 loaf pans so that the ends extend over the two long sides. That will make it easier to lift the refrigerated loaf out of the pan later. Pour half the mixture into each pan. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight or until chilled and solid.

To fry, remove the loaf from the pan and place on cutting surface. Slice into about 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add some butter and, as soon as it melts, add the scrapple slices. It is critical with scrapple to let each side brown thoroughly before attempting to turn it over or it will stick and fall apart, so be very patient. Serve as is or, as many PA Dutchmen would do, with ketchup or apple butter.

Notes: You will have to learn, as I did, what degree of thickness to cook the corn meal. On my first attempt, it obviously was too thin because the chilled mixture did not get as stiff as expected. If that happens to you, don't panic. I was still able to slice and fry it, although it fell apart easily. You will need to play with the seasonings, tasting and adjusting until you get what you want. Many people dredge scrapple in a light coating of flour before frying. Scrapple freezes very well; just slice and wrap individually in waxed paper and then place in freezer bags. Take out as many slices as you want and fry them with or without thawing, reducing the heat slightly if frozen to allow more cooking time. Remember, everything is previously cooked so it only needs to be browned and heated through. Serve instead of bacon, ham or sausage for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Variations: Two of the recipes I used as sources were from a Jeff Smith cookbook and Grandma Born's Scrapple on my Recipes from Visitors page as submitted by William Cooper. One recipe uses pork neckbones, which I understand produces a more gelatinous texture which aids in holding the mixture together. The other uses boneless beef chuck in addition to the pork butt, but less broth to cook the corn meal. The seasonings are completely different, one using herbs and the other baking spices. Another difference is that, in one preparation you coarsely chop the meat, while in the other the meat is passed through a meat grinder. I do mine in the processor, but not too finely. So you can see that, once you start making scrapple, there are many ways to conform it to your own tastes. Since I posted this recipe, another, simpler version was submitted by Mark Voelker, called Mark's Scrapple. You might want to check that out as well.

The photo below is of our finished product.  In order to eat, simply slice and fry. 


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