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Recipe

Griddled Polenta Scrapple

Servings: 4

Scrapple, a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch favorite, is a meaty griddled breakfast dish still featured on menus throughout the mid-Atlantic states. I’m a fan, but I’ve come up with my own variation that’s a little bit Italian (not that any real Italian would ever make it). You start with well-seasoned hot fennel sausage (you can make a small batch for this recipe or buy good-quality Italian sausage), crumbled and lightly fried, and a pot of cooked polenta. Stir them together, and pour into a pie plate to cool. You want to let the whole thing firm up, so do it a day or two in advance. Then cook thick wedges in olive oil until browned and crisp. Good for breakfast, lunch, or supper, and especially nice with a garlicky radicchio salad.

Ingredients

For the scrapple

  • 4 cups water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup stone-ground polenta
  • 2 tsp. chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Olive oil
  • All-purpose flour for dusting

For the pork sausage

  • 1 lb. coarsely ground pork shoulder, not too lean
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 Tbs. sweet paprika
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

Preparation

  • Bring the water to a boil in a large heavy saucepan. Add 2 tsp. salt. Whisk in the polenta and stir well. After a minute or two, when the polenta has thickened a bit, reduce the heat to low and let cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes, until the grains have swollen and no raw cornmeal taste remains. (If the polenta gets too dry, add a little more water from time to time.)
  • Meanwhile, cook the sausage: Put the pork in a bowl and add 1 tsp. salt, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, paprika, and garlic. Mix well to distribute the seasonings evenly. Heat a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage meat (casings removed if purchased) and let it brown, using a spatula to crumble it into rough pieces, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Set aside at room temperature while the polenta finishes cooking.
  • When the polenta is done, add the sausage, along with the rosemary and Parmesan, stirring well to combine. Taste a spoonful of the mixture (let it cool first, so you don’t burn your mouth), then adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture onto a lightly oiled baking sheet or pie pan (use olive oil) to a depth of 3/4 inch. Cool until a skin forms on top, then cover with plastic wrap and let firm up in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.
  • Heat a large cast-iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Add a thin layer of olive oil. Cut the scrapple into wedges and dust lightly with flour on both sides. Put the wedges “skin” side down on the griddle. Cook gently until nicely browned and crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side.

Make Ahead Tips

The sausage can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to 3 days ahead, or wrap the sausage well and freeze it for future use.

Tip

You can substitute store-bought spicy Italian fennel sausages.Excerpted from One Good Dish by David Tanis (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers.

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