By Kevin Williams, Amish Cook Editor
Editor’s Note: This is a pilot of a sample series where we’ll visit a variety of Amish kitchens. Future videos – if this series continues – will focus on food and the ambiance of Amish kitchens, offering rare glimpses into a culinary world most don’t see. Future videos will feature less of me, and more of the kitchens and food. I am an author and editor who has been chronicling Amish culinary culture for over 20 years, visiting Plain settlements from Maine to Montana. To learn more about who I am and what I do, click here.
Amish and Mennonite menus are a meat-lovers nirvana. While meatless Mondays and plant-based diets have found a following among many society segments, the Amish and Mennonites generally remain committed carnivores. And no time of year is more “meat-centric” than winter. Gardens have gone dormant under a blanket of snow, temperatures plunge into the ice-box and winter winds mean one thing: butchering time. Whether it’s butchering beef, pork, or poultry, the cold months mean stocking up on meat. Butchering is a hot, messy job that the whole family pitches in to accomplish. Who wants to be up to their elbows in lard and beef on a roasting July day? That’s why the hard work of putting up meat is done during winter. February is a popular month. The bustle of the holidays are behind and the task of putting out a spring garden lays ahead. The butchering is often done outdoors or in a shed so a cold winter's day will keep the meat fresh. During a frigid February flies are non-existent and the work isn’t as grueling.
A favorite dish among the Amish at hog butchering time is a dish known as pon hoss (or haus). It is more widely known by the name “scrapple.” As the name implies, this is a pork dish comprised largely of “scraps”, portions of the pig that might not be part of one’s Christmas ham. If you have never seen scrapple before, check out this video:
his video was taken in an Old Order Amish home in Michigan. Amish settlements vary greatly from place to place, with some being more progressive, others being more conservative. Notice that this kitchen looks very much like a conventional non-Amish kitchen. The gas stove and refrigerator along with traditional Formica countertops show this settlement is a bit more progressive. Other more conservative Amish settlements still use ice-houses and cellars for food storage. We'll visit a variety of Amish communities for this series, from the most conservative to the most progressive.
While scrapple is often made for large gatherings, we’ve modified the recipe so you can try it at home.
Homemade Scrapple (Pon Haus)
3-4 pounds pork shanks or hocks
Cornmeal or flour
Over medium heat in large pot, cook pork until tender. Remove bones and skim fat from broth. Return meat to broth and add corn meal or flour, just enough to thicken. (Editor's note: Amount of flour to be added will vary widely depending on the meat used; add flour one cup at a time until broth is a thick paste.) Season with salt and pepper. Pour into loaf pans. Chill overnight in a cellar or refrigerator. The next day, slice and fry over medium-high heat until golden brown on each side. Serve.
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