Exploring the gap between what we eat and where we get it.

Recipe of the Month: Pheasant Scrapple

  1. Butter. Lots of butter.
  2. The Kenny Schwartz special.
  3. A great alternative to your boring breakfast.

My grandpa, Kenny Schwartz, was great at a lot of things—master electrician, waitress sweet-talker, napper—and he was especially good at making scrapple. In fact, pretty much the only time he stepped foot in the kitchen was to fry up these savory strips of German goodness. It was his special breakfast and no one could take that away from him.

So, now that he’s passed on, I thought I’d try my hand at his specialty, to carry on the tradition in my own way. While you normally make scrapple with leftover pig scraps (my grandpa used the neck meat), I think pheasant legs are the perfect substitute. It’s a flavorful, but lean, meat that’s perfect for frying up into crunchy cornmeal and far too many hunters throw them in the trash with the carcass. Instead, save up those pheasant legs for some of the best breakfast you’ll have in your entire life—at least, that’s what Kenny believed and by default, so do I.

This is one of those recipes that seems more complicated than it really is. Really, you can make pheasant broth and prepare the leg meat at any time, storing it in your freezer. Once you remove that step from the process, you’re essentially mixing meat, broth and cornmeal, cooling it overnight and then frying it in a pan. It’s simple, delicious, and a great alternative to the three or four breakfast foods modern America is stuck with these days. No offense, pancakes, but according to my German blood, you’ve got nothing on some well-fried scrapple.

NOTE: You can get creative with the mixture, but I prefer to keep it simple. Since it’s a sweet/savory combination, you could add fruit like raisins or cranberries or even replace the sweetness with jalapeño and skip the syrup altogether. Regardless, you want to make sure any solids in your mixture are thinly sliced or it’ll be tough to cut into even slices.

  • 4 pheasant legs
  • 5 cups of pheasant broth (from cooking)
  • Olive oil
  • ½ of a white onion
  • Optional: ¼ cup of sweet apple, peeled, chopped, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tsps of salt
  • 2 ½ cups of cornmeal
  • Butter or coconut oil for frying.

  • In a crockpot or in a large pot, cover your pheasant legs with a few tablespoons of olive oil, sliced onion, and then submerge with water. Cook on low for at least four to six hours, but overnight works as well.
  • Once cooked, remove the legs and pull the meat from the bone. Be careful to remove all of the small bones from the legs, of which there are plenty. Chop the meat into fairly small, thin pieces. You want it small enough to mix into the cornmeal, but not so small where it loses its place in the mixture. 
  • Strain the liquid from your crock pot into a separate bowl and cool the broth in the refrigerator. Discard the strained material. Once the broth is cooled, remove any fat from the top with a spoon.
  • Bring your broth to a boil on the stove, then add your meat and salt. While whisking, slowly add the cornmeal, making sure that it evenly soaks in with the liquid. If you need more liquid, just add a bit of broth or warm water. You want a fairly thick mixture, not watery at all.
  • Add your apple or fruit if you’re into that kind of thing.
  • Transfer your mixture to either a baking sheet or a 9x13” baking dish. Smooth with a spatula.
  • Cool the mixture in the refrigerator for at least four hours. Overnight works as well.
  • Now, cut the mixture into strips for frying. Essentially, you want to come away with ¼-inch slices to fry up. With a cookie sheet, you’ll simply slice the mixture into strips and lift them off the pan with a spatula or knife. In a baking dish (the traditional method), you’ll turn the mixture out onto a cutting board and slice it like a loaf of bread into strips. Either way is fine, but the cookie sheet method is probably a bit easier. If you’re doing the load method, be sure you have a sharp knife. I actually prefer the loaf method, because you have more control over the thickness. 
  • Heat your butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the strips, flipping once or twice, until brown and crispy on the outside. I like a heavy crunch. The thinner the trips, the crispier your scrapple will be overall. 
  • Serve with maple syrup and some fruit and you're in scrapple heaven.

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