What Makes Cincinnati Scrapple Different From Philadelphia Scrapple

The phrase "how the sausage gets made" sure has a negative connotation for such a delicious result. Sausage takes many forms — among them include hotdogs, bratwurst, salami, breakfast sausage patties, and even (arguably) pâtés — but no matter the shape, sausages ensure we preserve and use as much of the animal as possible. Since the word sausage can mean different things to different people, it's probably no surprise that there are forms of this food most of us haven't encountered before.

In Philadelphia and the greater Mid-Atlantic, scrapple is one of those unique and unheralded forms of sausage. It's earned a reputation of being made out of "everything but the oink," per The Philadelphia Inquirer. But while the name's origin isn't clear, the connection between those scraps of meat and "scrapple" is certainly plausible, especially when it comes to the different takes U.S. cities Cincinnati and Philadelphia respectively have on the dish.

A scrapple a day keeps boring breakfast away

Philadelphia's German settlers didn't waste an ounce of their pork and scrapple was a big part of that frugality. After cutting off the bacon, the pork chops, the ham, and the shoulder, there's still a lot of pig remaining. Those meat odds and ends are called "offal," according to Sand & Succotash. The term is used as a catchall for skin, organs, the head, and feet, and anything that's left after butchering off the muscle. Using offal to make sausage or other delicacies is a culinary tradition practiced around the world (per The Guardian). 

According to Penn State's WPSU, Philadelphia scrapple is that offal being simmered till tender. You're left with a rich pork broth and all of those meaty bits. Those bits are strained out, ground (or chopped), seasoned, and added back to the broth that's been thickened with cornmeal. The cornmeal binds this sausage into a cohesive porridge that gets poured into a loaf pan and cooled. Now, you can lop off a slice, fry it till crispy, and you're well on your way to a hearty City of Brotherly Love breakfast. That golden crust hides an unctuous, soft interior that's supremely meaty. The blog, What is Scrapple!, identifies that the most common ways to adorn this are with ketchup or maple syrup.

Scrapple in Cincinnati? Goetta load of this

Cincinnatian settlers were just as frugal as Philly's. In Cincinnati, it's goetta (pronounced, GET-uh per Merriam-Webster) that squeezes every ounce of pork from a pig. The Northern Kentucky Tribune explains that German immigrants brought oat-based Gruetzwurst to Cincinnati. It's made the same way as scrapple but instead of cornmeal, they use oats to bind their "goetta." 

Goetta can be served just like scrapple, but OhioMagazine.com reveals that goetta's crumblier texture is perfect for being fried into crispy bits that find their way onto nachos, pizza, and just about anything else. The people of Porkopolis love their goetta so much that the local favorite, Glier's Goetta, has started Goettafest. It's a two-weekend affair celebrating all of the ways you can use this specialty.

Can't make a trip to scrapple or goetta country? There's no shortage of mail-order options. Don't eat pork? That's not a problem either. Beef and poultry versions have become common. Plant Power Couple even offers a way to make your own vegan scrapple from walnuts.