I’m Winning Over Michiganders with this Cincinnati Breakfast Favorite

Goetta patties frying

Nothing gets a ten degree Michigan winter morning off to a better start than a hearty breakfast of goetta and eggs. If only Michiganders knew about it!

At home in northern Kentucky, bringing up the topic of goetta sparks an argument over whose recipe is better. There’s a festival in Covington dedicated to different varieties of the stuff. But when I mentioned it to my fiance’s family in Michigan, I was met with a lot of blank stares.I had a lot of explaining to do.

It’s really no surprise that I’ve been telling the story of goetta quite a bit up north. Outside of greater Cincinnati, not many have likely heard of it.

A short history of goetta

Germans have always had a penchant for hard-to-pronounce pork dishes, often made in loafs (here’s a list of just a few). And in 19th century Cincinnati pork was a staple. It was so much so that the city’s nickname was “Porkopolis.”

Like many of the other tongue-twisting German pork entrees, goetta was considered a lowly meal – food made with what was left over from the pig.¬†Goetta didn’t become commercially popular until the birth of Gliers in Covington, KY shortly after the Second World War. Still today, prepared goetta is only available in the greater Cincinnati area. It’s on shelves in grocery stores, and in delis like Finke’s Market.

How to make goetta

There are plenty of goetta recipes available online. Here is one from Recipes of a German Grandma:

Ingredients

1 lb. ground Beef
1 lb. ground Pork , or pork sausage
8 cups water
3 cups pinhead or Steel cut oats.
1 large onion sliced
1 to 4 bay leaves (optional)
3 teaspoons salt
pinch of pepper

Directions:

1. In a large pot bring to boil the oats, salt and pepper and the water. turn down, cover and simmer for 2 hours.

2. Add the meat, onions and spices , cover and cook for another hour, stirring ever so often.

Take a little dab about 1/4 cup and place it in a dish in the fridge or freezer to cool to see if it sets up. If not then cook another 30- 60 minutes.

Once you’ve cooked a batch of it, preparing it is simple enough. You can shape goetta into patties or form it into flat, rectangular strips. Fry it in a skillet until it’s crispy on the outside and you’re good to go.

I’ve always found goetta to go best with eggs over easy. This isn’t a made-for-TV dish, and I don’t treat it that way. Cut up your eggs and goetta, mix together and you’ve got an excellent breakfast plate. Be sure you have some toast nearby to mop everything up.

Goetta & Eggs. It isn't pretty once mixed, but it tastes fantastic.

Goetta & Eggs. It isn’t pretty once mixed, but it tastes fantastic.

However, breakfast isn’t the only way I’ve seen goetta used. I’ve read of goetta on pizza and goetta and grilled cheese sandwiches. We haven’t gotten that experimental yet. What I have done is created a breakfast habit for my Michigan family with a food they never knew existed. If that doesn’t convince you to try it, I don’t know what will.

Speaking of you, you should let me know if you’ve had this before, if you’re going to try it, or if you know of some awesome way to serve goetta. Let me know in the comments below!

Tell a friend!

2 comments

  • My dad grew up in mid-west OHIO (not a technical name but just north of Dayton). I was born and grew up in West Michigan. My dad all ways made us “German Grits” and we LOVED IT! the only place we could find it was when we went to visit my grandparents and there was a grocery store that make it in the deli. I would tell people about it but no one knew what I was talking about. I now live in Southgate (Metro Detroit MI) and make it for my family. I introduced it to my in laws about 10 years ago and its my contribution to our annual Christmas breakfast.

    Just today I started googling about it and found it was called goetta and there is a whole festival about it! Thanks for the post.

    • Will Eifert

      Hi Tony. Thanks for reading! I enjoyed your story, and that’s the first time I’ve heard it called “German Grits.” From what I’ve learned there are several German breakfast foods like goetta in other eastern parts of the country, and they go by different names. For example, I’ve heard that goetta is akin to what people in Pennsylvania call “scrapple,” though I’ve yet to try it.

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