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LEAF SCRATCHINGS from COOPERS FAMILY BUTCHERS, DARLASTON, WEST MIDLANDS

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So, What are they? Well thanks to Sue Lowe, here's what she tells us...

1. They are mouth-wateringly delicious!

2. You always used to be able to buy these scratchings from the butchers - they were chipped off a big block - I can remember them when I was a child, and so can my parents, who were born and raised in Wolverhampton.

From what I gather, they came about as a by-product of the lard making industry. Lard made from the "leaf" of the pig (the tissue surrounding the kidneys) is superior to other types of lard, and when the leaf is clarified to make the lard the tissues and bits of meat remain. I was told long ago that the remaining tissues were then compressed by a sort of cider press device (the reason they ended up in a big block) and were somehow cooked - although I imagine baked rather than fried. The result is flaky rather than crispy, with an intense porky flavour - reminiscent of parma ham.

Sadly, I believe the unpopularity of animal fats and also EU regulations contributed to the demise of these delicacies. In fact I do remember one butchers shop in Walsall that literally sold them "under the counter". However, I am happy to say that I do know of one butchers shop in Darlaston that still sells them - they are Coopers of Darlaston and have a website, so have a look on it. They do three types of scratching : the regular rind type, leaf scratchings and something they call "chewy" - which is just like leaf scratchings only chewier (a bit like jerky) if you know what I mean. However, they do not always have the leaf scratchings as the raw materials are hard to come by.

3. They are very addictive!

4. They are available from...
Coopers Family Butchers, 195 Walsall Road, Darlaston, West Midlands, WS10 9SW
Tel: 0121 526 2181
Email: enquiries@coopersfamilybutchers.co.uk
Web: www.coopersfamilybutchers.co.uk/