Cincinnati: Gotta get a Goetta
- Ryan Horan
For true fans of the cuisine of the Queen City (and yes, Cincinnati does have a very distinct cuisine), goetta holds a place utterly unchallenged. It is one of the great unifiers of the city; East and West side, local kitchens and city diners, name brands and secret home recipes, goetta can be found in nearly every corner of true Cincinnati society. For those of you unfamilliar with the product, I strongly recommend you familiarize yourself with what has thankfully remained one of the best kept secrets of the city.
Among the devotees; where do your loyalties lie? Do you have a secret breakfast spot or a favorite butcher's counter? Do you take it plain with eggs or do you dress it up with syrup or ketchup? Better yet? Anyone have any recipes? For my money, there is scarcely a comestible on the planet better than Eckerlin's Best at Findaly Market and I sorely miss it here in Boston...
Bill Finke and Sons Market - 1502 Amsterdam Rd (corner of Sleepy Hollow Rd), Fort Wright, KY (I guess that's Fort Wright, could be Park Hills).
With eggs, sure. But even as a stand-alone, especially with fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, chives, parsley) both cooked into the surface and then garnished with more herbs upon serving.
Personally, my mother and my aunt have always made goetta from scratch. My mother's was superb, my aunt goes too light on the seasoning.
Generally, and I will probably get hammered for this, goetta is not something that you get at upscale meat market. It is a low-end product that is more blue collar. And it is a food that generally is ONLY served in the summer. I would search for it at one of the places in Findley Market *OR* head to Kroger's. Brache's Meats in Mt. Lookout used to also make it, but I am not sure that they are still in business.
Personally, we used to cook it well done so that it is crunchy on the outside and still kind of juicy on the inside. I would serve it with fied eggs cooked over easy. No catsup or syrup. Ever.
For those who don't have a clue as to what goetta is. It is similar to Pennsylvania's scrapple or the German Ponhaus. It is a combination of scraps from the butchering process with pin oatmeal. This mixture is cooked in some way. It is formed in pans like meatloaf only you generally don't see the grain if the meat as much. It is generally refrigerated and grilled until it is hot.
I hope that this helps.
"I bet they make it better in Chicago?" Foul! Would you go to Miami for the bratwurst? New York for their Chicago-style Hotdog? How about a trip to Boston for authentic Etouffe? How goetta was precisely created is a matter for another debate but one story has the Irish slaughterhouse workers cooking pork scraps together with cereal to extend it. Early on it was known as 'Irish Hash' before being adopted by the larger German community and renamed to give it more of a germanic cachet. Goetta was born and raised in Cincinnati. Assuming that you could even FIND it in Chicago, I would assure you that the purveyor has his roots in the Queen City. If you want the real deal, you'll have to get it from the source.
There are some things that cannot be improved upon.
You can likely get Goetta that's near to state of the art at Avril's, a butcher shop downtown on Court St between Vine & Walnut. Findlay Mkt, once a place for the authentic stuff in Cincinnati, is a confused/confusing place these days after the City sunk millions of $$$'s into it with little effect. Another possibility might be the West Side butcher shops on Bridgetown Rd.
Lastly, if you want to eat goetta in the AM or for that matter, 24/7, you could venture over to Covington, KY and catch a bleary-eyed experience at the Anchor Grill
Personally, I never "got" goetta.
I like it with syrup, but once at a local German Oktoberfest I asked for syrup, and the lady said "That would not be the German way!" ('scuse me)
Most supermarkets have it and most breakfast places have it (e.g. Perkin's) even tho it is often not on the menu, and it can be substituted for ham, etc.
I only recently discovered this stuff, but now order it online. I would describe it as "scrapple for the squeamish." Really delicious with eggs, or on its own with maple syrup.