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Rediscovering goetta in Cincinnati

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A visit to Cincinnati took me back home to my German roots. It was the goetta, a crispy-tender, fried sausage patty made from ground pork shoulder combined with steel cut oats and flavored with bay leaves and rosemary.

My first plate of goetta was at Cincinnati’s Rookwood Restaurant, an 1892 repurposed pottery plant serving locally sourced and locally loved food. You can eat in one of the original kilns that can accommodate a table of ten. Of course, I had to try the hanky panky as I had never heard of it. Simply put, it is a satisfying mixture of textures and flavors all in one bite. There are many versions, but mine had goetta, Emmentaler cheese, béchamel, and house giardinera on marble rye. I was told goetta was once German peasant fare that stretched a family’s meat supply,

The next day, I had goetta at Cincinnati’s French Crust: puff pastry with goetta, poached egg and hollandaise sauce. While it may sound like an adventure in French-German fusion food, it was a delicious offering served in a French casserole. Again, I was reminded that goetta was once German peasant fare.

My cousin Pat, who lives in Louisville, told me that goetta is a family recipe she got from our great-grandmother Alvina Weimhoff Knauer, who was born in Kentucky in 1859 and died there in 1944. She got the recipe from her mother who emigrated from Germany to Louisville as a child.

Pat still prepares this special dish, a favorite of one of her sons, that I rediscovered in Cincinnati. Here is the original recipe:

Goetta circa 1800
¾ pound lean beef, preferably chuck
¾ pound lean pork
Salt and pepper to taste.
Cook together in water until tender
Save juice
Add enough water to make 8 cups
Add 3 cups of steel cut oats to the 8 cups of juice
Cook until puffs of steam are the only remaining liquid left
Add 1 tablespoon of fresh allspice and 1 teaspoon of pepper
Put wax paper on top so crust does not form
Cool then put in loaf pan to shape
Cut into ¼ inch slices and fry in lard until crispy
Serve with scrambled eggs and buttered toast

With thanks to my cousin Pat who has kept this recipe in the family.

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