Quintessential Cincinnati staple is as versatile as sausage in many recipes
Poor Goetta. It tends to get a bad rap in the food world. Unlike the gastronomical praises of confit, pates, dried sausages and cured meats, goetta has a rather unsavory reputation. Where’s the love for this beloved Cincinnati charcuterie?
The history of goetta – a blend of steel cut oats and ground meat (pork, beef or a mixture of both) – hails from the German settlers to the Cincinnati area in the early 19th century.
“Goetta is actually not really German at all, but rather German-American, thus its popularity in the upper Midwest where many Germans settled in America,” said popular German chef Walter Staib, host of “Taste of History” on PBS. “It’s a frugal means of using an entire animal and making it go a bit further by adding oats or some filling to it, stemming from the traditional sausage making methods.”
Although goetta is typically celebrated as Cincinnati fare, its origins are long steeped in Kentucky’s history. Gliers Goetta, the most recognizable name in the industry, was founded by the Glier family just across the river from Cincinnati in northern Kentucky. Longtime president Bob Glier was a graduate of EKU, and Bob’s son David graduated from NKU and is the third generation to carry on the goetta goodness. Goettafest, held each August, draws tens of thousands to the streets of MainStrasse Village in Covington for a Goetta smorgasbord like none other. Pizza, burgers, wraps, meatballs and even fudge are not exempt from being given a goetta makeover.
Locally, you can order a crispy patty at Josie’s Diner in Chevy Chase and each October Glier’s sets up shop in the Incredible Food Show at Rupp Arena to educate and welcome a whole new crop of goetta fans.
Although it isn’t too hard to come by in Lexington grocery stores, there’s nothing quite like homemade goetta. Traditionally, it’s made from pork parts not typically found, let’s say, at a barbeque, to put it nicely. Most online recipes for homemade goetta are more user friendly, substituting pork parts for readily available ground pork. This recipe calls for country spare ribs, a happy medium between the two.
Homemade goetta is a fairly easy, albeit time consuming endeavor. A lazy Sunday afternoon is a perfect excuse to make a batch, which should provide you with enough goetta to host quite a bountiful Goettafest of your own for Sunday dinner.
(adapted from Man Tested Recipes, www.mantestedrecipes.com)
Ingredients:• 2-3 pounds country-style pork ribs • 8 cups water • 2 1/2 cups steel-cut oatmeal • 20-plus bay leaves • 1 1/2 large onions, quartered • 2 teaspoons salt • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
Preparation:1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. 2. In a 4-quart Dutch oven (or heavy pot with a tight fitting lid), gently boil the pork in 8 cups water with 10 of the bay leaves for about 15 minutes, until pork is cooked through. 3. Cool and remove pork, discard bay leaves. You want to keep the liquid, but strain it for any pork or bay leaves left. 4. Add salt and pepper, 10 new bay leaves, and the oatmeal to the liquid. Bring to a rolling boil on the stove and boil for 10 minutes. 5. Finely grind 1 onion in a food processor (or finely chop by hand) and add to oats. Cover and place in oven. It will bake there for an hour, until oats are fully cooked. 6. In a food processor or mill, grind the cooked pork (with all the fat) and reserve. 7. After 1 hour, the oatmeal will be thick and glistening from the fat. Stir in all the ground pork and the remaining chopped onions. 8. Cool and pack into loaf pans (rap the loaf pans on the counter a few times to make sure the goetta is firmly packed into the loaf pan with no air or space.) Chill for at least 1 hour (or overnight) and slice into 1/4-inch pieces; fry slices on a hot griddle or cast iron skillet with oil or bacon grease until golden brown. Makes 2 loaves.
Huevos Rancheros with Goetta Refried Beans
Thanks to goetta’s diversity and especially its association with breakfast fare, it serves as a great addition to even a delicious Mexican-inspired breakfast. Here, goetta is sliced and placed on top of refried beans. It could easily be fried, crumbled and mixed into the beans, much like chorizo.