Only in York County

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Oh, we haven’t talked about pig parts in a while!

Last week, Chris and I had a rare day off together, so we headed up to Midtown Harrisburg to hit The Midtown Scholar bookstore and the Broad Street Market.

His favorite part about the market? All the pig parts for sale by one of the meat vendors. Pigs’ feet, real ears (His quote: “Joan, those are ears! Real ears!”) and, of course, you could order your frozen pig stomach.

And we all know what you make from that, right?

Commenter Steve B. does! He writes, “Piggy Maw, Hog Maw no matter what you call it I love it. My grandmother would make this for me when I would visit her in Hanover. I would alway ask for Piggy Maw or Creamed Chicken & Waffles for dinner. Sliced the roasted maw and served with pan gravy, buttered noodles, lima beans and some chow chow. Heaven on a plate.”

Then, I had a really fun call and email from a very-far-out-of-state reader, J. Kramer. He wanted to let me know about his experiences with another kind of pig meat, ponhaus! (If you know what ponhaus is, I probably don’t have to warn you about what you might read in this description of how it’s made, but if you’re not into that sort of thing, you should probably skip to the end!)

Puddin’ and ponhaus on display at the Market and Penn Farmers’ Market from a 2009 post of mine. It’s actually a little bit to the right of the arrow!

Mr. Kramer writes, “Having been born and raised in Pennsylvania I know about ponhaus. I was born in Altoona and raised in Hollidaysburg, My father’s family was from Clearfield County and my mother’s from the Blairsville area. German and Scotch-Irish I think. When I was a young boy, we would make a pilgrimage in the fall to my great uncle’s farm in Clearfield, to slaughter hogs he had fattened up since spring. There was a large tub of water boiling on a fire in the side yard. The hogs would be killed (we never got to see that part) then two or three of the men would drag them over to a tripod, with a block and tackle they would hoist them up one at a time and lower them into the hot water for a couple minutes. When they came out we would pull the hair off them. They had to be clean. Then they would be cut up, hams, loins and the belly, or bacon would go to the smokehouse to be cured and smoked. Most of the rest of it would be ground for sausage, their choice of seasoning salt and course ground pepper. The women would be busy in the kitchen, with large cast iron skillets, frying sausage and stacking it into 5 gallon crocks, as each batch was stacked they would pour the fat over it. This would seal the sausage and keeping it from spoiling, repeating till the crock was filled. Then came the best part, as far as I was concerned, the ponhaus, the women would take what was left, the tongue, liver and head, put them in a pot with seasoning and cook them till done. The liver would be done first, then the tongue (we would peel and slice it and eat it hot). When the meat was about to fall off the bone it would be taken out and picked clean. Then the meat would be chopped or ground fine. They would strain the broth and put it back on the stove bring it to a boil and into it they would put about equal amounts of plain and buckwheat flour and cook.”

I have to admit, I don’t usually like to think too much about my, um, pig parts, though I do enjoy eating most of them. But in a case like this, I think it’s pretty cool to hear about how one of our Pennsylvania traditional foods is made!

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