Even though the concept of "summer break" is now but a fond memory tucked away more than a decade in the past, when the weather gets hot I still get the same cravings for impulsive treats, like ice cream cones, fried dough, street cart hot dogs, and breakfast for dinner. Maybe it's because, after braving sticky subway rides and slogging through blasts of hot air, by the time I get home all I want is the AC on full blast and something for dinner that reminds me of the good old days. You know, when the most stressful part of summer was juggling pool parties and mandatory family time.
That's all to say that, on Sunday, when I discovered a fresh batch of scrapple in the Farmstand's meat freezer, it took two minutes to determine what this week's pizza would be. If you're not familiar with scrapple, it's a pâté-like meat loaf thing native to eastern Pennsylvania and typically made of boiled-down pork offal, cornmeal, and minimal seasonings. When I was young and my mom would make breakfast for dinner in the summertime, she'd fry thin slabs of scrapple in a little butter, pressing it down as it cooked to achieve ultimate crispiness. The result tasted like meaty hash browns, and if we were lucky enough to have pancakes, too, we'd drench the whole thing in maple syrup just because we could.
In my pizza-fied version of this nostalgic treat, I amped up the salty-sweet flavor of the scrapple with sharp cheddar cheese and pure maple syrup, and then I scattered on some chopped fresh lemon balm after it came out of the oven, both for color and for complexity. Serve it with extra maple syrup at the table, in the true spirit of summertime!
Scrapple Breakfast-for-Dinner Pizza (with Cheddar cheese and maple syrup)
Makes one 12-inch pizza
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 6 to 8 ounces scrapple, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball Basic Pizza Dough (or pre-made dough)
- 1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemon balm or mint
Place your pizza stone (if using) on an oven rack about 8 inches from the broiler. If you plan to cook your pizza on a baking sheet, place a rack in the middle of the oven (you do not need to preheat the baking sheet). Preheat the oven to 500°F and let it heat up for at least 30 minutes while you make the dough and/or prepare the toppings.
To prep the toppings: Melt the butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scrapple in a single layer, making sure not to crowd the pan, smash them down with the back of your spatula, and cook for 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy all over. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the scrapple to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Do not wipe out the skillet.
To stretch/roll out the dough: Dust the ball of dough with flour and place it on a well-floured work surface. Using your hands or a rolling pin, gently stretch or roll the dough into a 12-inch disk.
If you’re using a pizza stone: Dust a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet generously with flour or cornmeal. Place the dough disk on the prepared peel.
If you're using a baking sheet: Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the dough disk on the prepared baking sheet.
To top the pizza: Using a pastry brush, coat the dough lightly all over with the butter and grease left in the skillet. Scatter on half of the cheese, then the scrapple, and then the remaining cheese. Drizzle the maple syrup over top.
To bake the pizza: If you're using a pizza stone, 10 minutes before you are ready to cook the pizza, increase the oven heat to broil. Slide the pizza from the peel (or inverted baking sheet) to the hot stone using quick shimmying movements. Broil the pizza for 5 to 7 minutes until the bottom of the crust is crispy and the top is blistered. Using the peel or inverted baking sheet, transfer the cooked pizza to a cutting board. If you are making more than one pizza, allow the pizza stone to reheat under the broiler for 5 minutes before you cook the next one.
If you're using a baking sheet, do not increase the oven to broil. Place the baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the oven and bake at 500°F for about 10 minutes, until the crust is crispy and the top is blistered.
Let the pizza rest for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with the lemon balm. Slice and serve with more maple syrup for drizzling.