Post-pub nosh deathmatch: Souse versus scrapple
El Reg mixes it up with the Pennsylvania Dutch
Our popular post-pub nosh deathmatch series takes a decidedly Pennsylvania Dutch turn this chilly November, as we present for your drunken dining pleasure two stateside dishes suggested by our gourmet readers.
The contenders weighing in for this culinary clash are souse and scrapple, a couple of carnivore-friendly concoctions requiring dedicated pre-boozer prep, but offering immediate deployment from the fridge when you stagger home from a night on the tiles.
First up to the plate is souse - a cold cut related to "head cheese", aka "brawn" in England, "potted heid" in Scotland, or Sülze in Germany.
In its most basic form, head cheese is the the meat from the boiled head of a calf or pig, left to set in the natural gelatin from the unfortunate animal's skull.
There are plenty of international variants on the theme using different beast bits, such as pig's trotter, and which may include seasoning, vegetables, and other extravagances not available to the medieval peasantry who first discovered the delights of skull scrapings in aspic.
The Pennsylvania Dutch version of head cheese, dubbed souse or pon haus, uses tongue, pig's ear and trotter as its basic ingredients - the latter to provide vital gelatin, although extra will be required to ensure a solid final result.
The recipe is not to be confused with Caribbean souse, which is an entirely different animal made up of pickled meat and trimmings soaked in water, lime juice, hot pepper and further flavoursome delights.
We don't mind admitting that it was with a certain amount of trepidation that we approached the assembled souse raw ingredients...
...which are specifically:
- 1 beef tongue
- 1 pig's trotter
- 2 pig's ears
- 20g salt
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 Italian sweet pepper
- 350ml white wine vinegar
- 1g garlic powder
- 3g dried sage
- 1g ground black pepper
- 8 peppercorns
- 8 cloves
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 15g gelatin
So, let's get down to it:
Once you've got your souse brew into the bowl, you should leave it for a couple of hours at room temperature, until it starts to gel, then stick it in the fridge overnight. This is what it looks like the next morning...
...and here's the finished result, after careful removal from the bowl:
not so sure about this weeks selection
if i'm honest, and i staggered home with a belly full of beer, and went to eat either of these, i don't think i'd have a full belly anymore, just a pending cleaning bill and the prospect of the following morning spent working over the kitchen floor with a bucket and mop and disinfectant...
I had a nice laugh over the posts from those who find these two foods nauseating. I suspect that a blindfold might make a lot of difference as both can be quite delicious. Non gustibus and all that, though.
I was very fortunate as a boy and young man to live on more than one continent and experience several cultures, especially their cuisines. It's not that I find all foods to my liking, but I'm never put off by the idea of any food. This makes it possible, among other things, to enjoy a delightful substitution for croutons. Earthworms or grubs seasoned with a bit of garlic fry up very nicely and are good and crunchy on my salad.
My father grew up near Philadelphia and we had Reading Terminal Market scrapple in the house as early as I can remember. I've always loved it. Souse just doesn't have a good texture for my tastes, though.
Re: And this is why
Not eating offal is one of the biggest calamities to hit the western diet, the foods I was brought up on (60s and 70s) are really hard to find. Stuffed lambs' hearts... mmmm....
I remember when I was in Greece visiting some friends for Easter (it's well worth visiting any country that practices Orthodox Christianity at Easter for the incredible vibe it brings), and we had the traditional roast lamb - made by getting a lamb, and roasting it an oven. Whole. I've not been looked at by any food higher up the chain than whitebait, so I was a bit non-plussed, but when my friend's husband and his father had a bit of barny about who got to scoop out the brain, I was very chuffed.
We're far too wussy about our food these days.
Although, I don't think i'll be rushing to try these recipes...