Artisan scrapple may sound as improbable as artisan Spam—practically a contradiction in terms. This mushy American breakfast meat gets a pretty bad rap. The aptly (but unappealingly) named "scrapple" was invented by poor Pennsylvania Dutch farmers to use up all the spare bits of a pig—everything but the snout, and sometimes even that. Over the years, pig tongue, heart, skin, liver, brains, and even eyes have been stirred into the mix. (Along with flour and spice to tame down the flavor.) Modern producers are a bit more discriminating, but all sorts of organs are still fair game.
If it sounds like an acquired taste, it usually is. Though a regional favorite with an almost cult-like following, scrapple rarely appears outside of Pennsylvania and surrounding environs.
Yet out in Brooklyn, Williamsburg’s popular breakfast spot Egg tries its hand at scrapple. Even in offal-hungry New York, it seems an unlikely sell. But Egg builds a menu from American country classics like stone-ground South Carolina grits, homemade biscuits, and Kentucky country ham—elevated through chef-owner George Weld’s intelligent sourcing and obvious skill. If anyone can peddle scrapple to brunching urbanites, it’s he.
Egg’s scrapple comes from High Hope Hogs, a small New Jersey operation raising pigs free of steroids, hormones, and antibiotics. (They also have a regular stand at the Union Square Greenmarket.) And their scrapple is about as tasty as a breakfast meat could be. Each beautifully browned slab was pleasantly gooey, with a still-creamy interior.
Though downright buttery in texture, almost like a pate, it didn’t feel greasy or heavy. On the offal spectrum, it ranks somewhere below British black pudding: a bit of gamey flavor, sure, but nothing off-putting. I could see scrapple as a perfect gateway offal—a step up from sausages on the way to relishing organs à la Leopold Bloom.
I’m not quite ready to proclaim myself a scrapple convert. First meeting scrapple at Egg is like first trying tripe at Babbo—an incredible experience says more about the skill of the chef than the merits of the ingredient. But for those ready to break out of a bacon and sausage rut, there’s nowhere better than Egg.