Cooking Goetta and a Recipe for Goetta Grilled Cheese

Cooking Goetta

As promised, I’ve got some instructions on cooking goetta as well as a recipe in which goetta is the ingredient but not necessarily the star.

The key to cooking goetta is creating a crispy, but not burnt, exterior but without a mushy interior. I confess to being a bit of a neophyte, so you may have some goetta-tastic friends rolling their eyes at my instructions. Probably best to listen to them, not me!

GliersForSandwich

You’ll need to cut up the goetta first into half-inch (1.25 cm) slices. I’m using some Glier’s goetta here.
GoettaSlices
Then you’ll need to heat up your pan. Ideally you’d like to start with a hot, non-stick pan, so a well seasoned cast iron pan would be ideal. I do not have that. Instead, I used a non-stick pan, which I don’t place on a burner while it’s empty. Thus for me, I use some oil (neutral oil, such as grapeseed). There are those who consider adding oil sacrilege, while others have no such qualms. I know this, because I asked Dr. Google (she knows everything). So, I do add oil.

Next, when the pan (with or without oil) is hot, I add the slices o’ goodness. Cook for a bit (say 2-5 minutes) over medium heat until one side is brown and crispy, but not burnt.FryingGoetta Flip and cook the second side; this will take less time (about 2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and start with the next batch (adding a little oil if necessary). Repeat until you’ve cooked as much goetta as you want.

CrispyGoetta

A Recipe for Goetta Grilled Cheese

Goetta is delicious on its own, breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. But goetta-as-ingredient is, as Martha Stewart would say, a Good Thing. So, I’m adding goetta to a grilled cheese sandwich here. This is delicious and simple. Ingredients are for one sandwich, so double if making two.

What You’ll Need

  • nonstick skillet or seasoned cast iron pan
  • box grater for shredding cheese (or food processor, if you are making multiple sandwiches)
  • knife for spreading butter
  • scale to weigh shredded cheese
  • board for assembling sandwich
  • spatula

Ingredients

  • 2 slices sturdy white sandwich bread, not the overly squishy variety, but some that has a bit of heft; do NOT substitute fancy country loaves—this is not the time to use your finest wood-fired artisan bread!

    THIS kind of bread, not your fancy schmancy loaves with the big, big, big holes.
    THIS kind of bread, not your fancy schmancy loaves with the big, big, big holes.
    Not this bread. NOT THIS BREAD!
    Not this bread. NOT THIS BREAD!
  • 1.5 oz 1 shredded Gruyere or Comte cheese (if unavailable, use a nutty Swiss cheese); this is about 1/3 to ½ cup
  • 0.5 oz shredded smoked Gouda cheese (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • The Cheeses
    The Cheeses
  • unsalted butter, softened (there’s plenty of salt in the goetta and cheese, so do use unsalted if possible
  • 1-2 slices cooked goetta (2 slices of Glier’s works for me, but you might only need 1 slice from the rectangular Eckerlin’s or Mike’s loaves)
  • How to Make the Goetta Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    1. Read the recipe. Seriously. You don’t want to be half-way through, only to realize that you needed butter. Read through the recipe now.
    2. Assemble your ingredients. This is called mise en place, a French term for putting everything in place. Do this before you begin to cook ANYTHING.
    3. Okay, we are ready now. Butter ONE side of EACH piece of bread.
    4. Flip ONE bread slice over and place about 2/3 of the Gruyere on top of the unbuttered side.
    5. Place the cooked goetta on top of the Gruyere. You may have to chop a piece to fit onto the bread.
    6. Top the goetta with the rest of the Gruyere and add the smoked Gouda on top of it.
    7. The mostly assembled sandwich prior to cooking
      The mostly assembled sandwich prior to cooking
    8. Melt some butter in a nonstick skillet or seasoned cast iron pan over medium-low heat. You don’t want the heat too high, because you don’t want to burn the bread before the cheese melts. .
    9. MeltingButterinPan

    10. After melting the butter, place the sandwich in the pan, pressing down with a spatula.
    11. Cook until the bottom is crispy and golden brown, but not burnt.
    12. Carefully flip the sandwich over and cook until the second side is golden brown.
    13. GoldenBrown

    14. Remove from pan and eat.
    15. Sandwich1

    Sandwich2

    11 ounce/oz = 28.3 grams/g

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Goet-ta Out of Here!

A Gift from the Queen City

Gliers

Glier’s Goetta

About a year or so ago, I was introduced to goetta (pronounced get-tuh, rhymes with meta), a type of breakfast sausage-combination-amalgamation-thing with its roots in Cincinnati’s German immigrant population. I’d heard of this semi-mythical gastronomic beast but, living in Hoosier Land, a two-and-a-half hour drive away from the Queen City epicenter, I’d never partaken of so much as a crispy, crunchy crumb of the stuff. It wasn’t (and to my knowledge, still isn’t) available in my local grocery stores.1 So leave it to a new relationship and an invitation to a Goettoberfest to initiate me in the Ways of the Goettarati.

As a mixture of meat and grain, goetta has been compared to scrapple, that morning mush featured as part of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine. Certainly, similarities stand out—both contain some combination of meat, grain, and spices. Both share a German-American lineage. And both are an expression of creative frugality. But they are clearly two different kinds of treats.

So, What Is Goetta, Exactly?

Goetta, which combines ground pork, often pork shoulder (sometimes with ground beef), pinhead or steel-cut oats, and seasonings, was, historically, a way to stretch meat into multiple meals. In that sense, it served as a testament to immigrant frugality. Typically formed into a log or rectangular loaf, it’s sliced thin and then fried so that the exterior becomes crisp. Although goetta is most often deemed a breakfast treat, culinary creatives pushing the envelope incorporate it into other recipes (goetta pizza, anyone?).

Goetta’s closest relative may be the aforementioned scrapple, the Pennsylvania Dutch2 dish. Scrapple mixes porks bits (including offal), cornmeal, and spices, so there is that meat-grain similarity. It, too, is sliced thin and fried. But the grains are different, as is the origin of Germans behind these dishes. The revolutions of 1848 that brought many Germans to the United States served as the impetus of many of Cincinnati’s immigrants relocations, whereas the Pennsylvania Dutch primarily stem from the Protestant religious refugees of the Rhineland-Palatinate, southwestern Germany, and Switzerland during an earlier period. Additionally, the textures differ. Scrapple is fine-grained, whereas goetta is coarser and crumblier. Still, one cannot deny the correlation between scrapple and goetta.

Sources of Goetta

Eckerlin's
Eckerlin’s

The Greater Cincinnati area (which includes not only the Queen City herself, but surrounding counties, including some in Indiana and Kentucky), is Goetta Central. A number of producers supply the goetta-loving public and, having tried three of them, the recipes are like snowflakes—no two are alike. The standard (and most ubiquitous in supermarkets) is Glier’s, which comes in a tube. I’ve also had Eckerlin’s (from Cincinnati’s Findlay Market), which seems spicier and pepper-ier, as well as Mike’s (also acquired at Findlay Market), which has a more pure pork flavor. I enjoyed all three and wouldn’t turn any of them down. If you’re up for a challenge, you can even make your own (which I will, some day!). Until then, I’ll happily indulge in those available commercially.

Mike's Homemade (but Commercially Available) Goetta
Mike’s Homemade (but Commercially Available) Goetta

On Deck: Cooking Goetta and a Recipe for Goetta Grilled Cheese

In the next week or so, I’ll be posting some instructions on cooking goetta, as well as a recipe for goetta grilled cheese. With pictures!

1On June 16th, I checked both my local Marsh supermarket and my local Meijer superstore, neither of which currently carries goetta
2The proper term is actually Pennsylvania German, as “Dutch” is a corruption of “Deutsch”, aka German in German.

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