This Traditional Oatmeal Dish Is Perfect For Meat Lovers

If you've never been to Cincinnati, chances are you've never encountered goetta, a weird-sounding savory oatmeal dish that's laced with plenty of ground meat and sausage spices and then fried up in a pan until crispy. Pronounced "get-uh," the dish is a legacy of the Ohio city's robust population of German immigrants, according to Serious Eats. The outlet also explains that by 1850, about 60 percent of Cincinnati's population was comprised of German emigrants.

Motivated by religion, these Germans brought their Catholic churches, schools, and social centers to an area that was largely Protestant. They also imported a staple breakfast dish called goetta — a starchy, sausage-y concoction that's related to other European grain and meat loaves, such as Scottish haggis and Polish kishka, reports The Daring Gourmet. Although the dish might sound strange, it's actually a delicious, crunchy union of starchy oats and flavorful beef and pork that any meat lover would adore. So let's take a closer look at goetta, shall we?

What is goetta?

According to The Daring Gourmet, goetta, or Cincinatti sausage grain patties, is a melange of meat, oats, onions, and spices that are shaped into patties, fried, and served for breakfast, typically alongside eggs. Of German origin, goetta's name comes from the words "grötte" or "grütze," which translate to "groats." A peasant dish, goetta was a way to stretch expensive but tasty meat with inexpensive but filling grains. In its home country, The Daring Gourmet notes, goetta would have been prepared with local buckwheat, barley, or rye, but in the New World more common oats were substituted. 

Once a big pot of oats was stirred together with plenty of ground meat, the mixture would be left to cool and coagulate, then sliced and fried up in a pan until crisp (via The Daring Gourmet). Think of goetta as Cincinnati's version of Philly's scrapple. And the Queen City has nothing but love for this mix of a dish.

Cincinnati is truly obsessed with goetta

Goetta was typically made at home until 1946, when Robert Glier returned from World War II to settle in Covington, Kentucky, located just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati (via Glier's Meats). Thanks to his German roots, Glier was familiar with butchery and sausage making, and established a small shop where he sold German-inspired cuts and sausages. In the winter months, he prepared and sold goetta, which became so popular among locals — who were happy to outsource the long cooking process — that it eventually became Glier's Meats' signature product. 

Today, Glier's Meats is still going strong, producing over one million pounds of Goetta each year, according to its website. Cincinnatians can't get enough of the stuff, commonly ordering it for breakfast at local diners and greasy spoons such as Price Hill Chili and Blue Jay Restaurant. They also flock to nearby Newport, Kentucky's annual Goettafest — sponsored by Glier's Meats, natch — to devour goetta-and-egg sandwiches, goetta-crowned potato pancakes, and goetta fried rice (via Glier's Meats). While the festival sounds fun, you can still enjoy goetta at home no matter where you live. Here's how to make it.

How to make goetta at home

To make goetta at home, you'll need steel cut oats, ground beef, ground pork, plenty of spices, and other aromatics including onions and garlic. Over on Emmymade's Facebook page, home cook and Youtuber Emmy Cho shares her popular version of goetta, simmering oats in beef broth before adding ground beef, ground pork, finely chopped onion, minced garlic, ginger, mace, white and black pepper, coriander, and cloves. She then transfers this gooey mixture into heavily greased loaf pans, where it sits overnight before Cho cuts it into half-inch slices and fries it up in a dry skillet until crispy — the secret to a perfect goetta, according to The Daring Gourmet.

Goetta is usually served with eggs any style, hash browns, and hot coffee, as well as other breakfast favorites such as sliced fruit. So the next time you're craving a little taste of Germany (or of Cincinatti) bust out your oats and ground meat and get yourself a plate of goetta.