Local Man Makes Old-Time Meat

By Jill Fennema –

Balkenbrij or scrapple is an old fashioned Dutch recipe that many of our readers may be familiar with. Others of our readers may have never heard of it, and when they hear the process by which it’s made, might be thinking they don’t even want to try it. But it’s a product of a time when meat was scarce and people never let anything go to waste.

Glenn “Corky” Gunnink has been making balkenbrij since he was a kid. He helped his parents, Gerrit and Henrietta Gunnink, make it when he was a young boy of maybe 14 years of age. When he got older he started making it for his family and has continued to make it over the years.

Balkenbrij is made from head meat, especially the cheeks from pork head and some organ meat. The pork cheeks replace extra cracklings that would have been used in days gone by. When his mother made it, she used more cracklings. Cracklings are what are left over when you render lard.

Rendering lard is done when all the fat from an animal is baked in an oven at 300 degrees, until the liquids and solids separate. The liquid, after separated from the solids, was allowed to solidify again and was used for baking. You can buy lard commercially now, but back 50 years ago, people always rendered their own. The lard was filtered through a white “flour sack” dish towel before it was put in glass jars.

The cracklings were ground up with whatever meat was available. Some people had very little or no meat, but others would use head meat and organ meat like Gunnink does now.

For the complete article, please see the October 18th edition of the Edgerton Enterprise. If you do not currently receive the Enterprise, CLICK HERE for information on how to subscribe!

Corky Gunnink is grinding the cooked meat that goes into his balkenbrij

Corky cooks the meat with propane stoves in his garage until it is tender enough to be removed from the bones.

Corky uses a drill to stir the mixture.

Corky Gunnink is grinding the cooked meat that goes into his balkenbrij

Frying up the finished product.