Some people get out of bed for bacon. Some people get out of bed for pancakes. Growing up, I got out of bed for my grandmother’s goetta. Meemaw’s skillet would snap! crackle! pop! as the meaty mixture crisped to perfection. Coupled with a runny-yolked egg, this exclusively German, exclusively Ohioan dish is breakfast bliss unlike anything I’ve ever known.
What Is Goetta?
Goetta (“get-uh”) is quintessential peasant food, born out of necessity by German-American immigrants who settled in Cincinnati in the 19th century. It takes an expensive staple, pork, and stretches it so there’s enough to pass around. Similar to Pennsylvanian scrapple and North Carolinian livermush (both mixtures of pork and cornmeal), goetta typically contains pork—and not always the desirable parts.
You combine the meat with steel-cut oats, season the mixture, shape it into a loaf, slice it into ultra-thin slices (emphasis on the ultra-thin), pan-fry it and you’ve got yourself the beloved breakfast dish!
Sure, pork entrails and organs don’t sound particularly tasty, but any pork pro will know that the specks of dark pink in the uncooked meat means a rich flavor once the meat is cooked. When it’s prepared correctly, goetta is oh-so-crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. You can slip it into a breakfast sandwich, slap it on top of a burger, use it to sop up your egg yolks or enjoy it in its purest form: on its own.
Where to Find Goetta
It might as well be synonymous with Cincinnati, but unlike other Cincinnati classics (we’re talking about Skyline Chili or “Cincinnati chili“), it’s managed to remain mostly confined to the Queen City.
That means fresh goetta is hard to get your hands on, unless you’re passing through Cincinnati, where it it can be found at any supermarket. For anyone who’s in southwest Ohio, Glier’s is the way to go. It’s commonly (and, if you ask me, accurately) regarded as the best goetta around, and the factory churns out one million pounds of the product each year.
Fortunately, it’s not too hard to make at home. You can let the slow cooker do most the work for an easy yet irresistible breakfast side. Prepare to be converted!