Goetta (Cincinnati Sausage Grain Patties)

These famous German-influenced sausage grain patties known as Goetta from the Greater Cincinnati area have a fantastic flavor and are an absolutely delicious addition to your breakfast!  This authentic homemade Goetta recipe captures the flavor and texture that you know and love.  Make a double batch while you’re at it because it freezes well!

goetta recipe best homemade cincinnati kentucky sausage grain patties breakfast

What is Goetta?

You may not have heard of goetta, but it’s famous.  At least it is in Cincinnati where it’s practically a staple ingredient.  So much so the people of the Greater Cincinnati area consume over 1 million pounds of it ever year.  That’s 450 metric tons of goetta!

What’s more, there’s even an annual goetta festival, “Glier’s Goettafest”, that’s held every August near Newport, Kentucky and features goetta served every way imaginable.  Music, dancing and other entertainment adds to the occasion of celebrating this beloved food as well as the German-American heritage of the Greater Cincinnati area.

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So what is goetta (pronounced “getta”)?  Goetta is a mixture made out of meat, steel-cut oats, onions and spices that is formed into sausages patties, fried, and eaten for breakfast.  The dish is of German origin and the name is a derivative of the German words Grötte or Grütze (depending on the region), which translates to “groats,” but this dish is not known as Goetta in Germany.

goetta recipe best homemade cincinnati kentucky sausage grain patties breakfast

Where Did Goetta Originate?

The concept goetta is similar to Pennsylvania Dutch scrapple, Polish kishka and Scottish haggis in that, all these originally being peasant dishes, it was a way to make the most of every part of the animal – to use up the scraps – and to make them stretch to feed the most people possible.

In the case of goetta, it was brought to the Cincinnati area over a century ago by German immigrants from northern Germany.  While the version in north Germany would have been made more commonly with buckwheat, barley or rye (the grains most prolifically grown in that area), oats were substituted once the immigrants reached Cincinnati (which is the more common crop in that area).  Also, the original, peasant German version would have included more animal organ parts whereas goetta is made with the muscle meat only (when the German immigrants reached the United States they found that pork here was much cheaper).

There are several key spices in this that are essential to achieving the “old world” flavor that many German meats and sausages are associated with:  Mace, marjoram, coriander, white pepper, cloves and ginger.  Don’t omit or substitute any of these.  Include all of them and once you’ve tasted the final result you’ll be very happy you did!

goetta recipe best homemade cincinnati kentucky sausage grain patties breakfast

How to Cook Goetta the Right Way

Yes, this can be a point of frustration.  You’ll find forums online of people venting and lamenting and asking for help on how to fry goetta so that it doesn’t completely fall apart in the pan.

I’ll say it right now, it is challenging keeping the patties together when you fry them and that’s just the nature of goetta.  Goetta is not a firm sausage patty.  It’s a fairly soft and loose patty with a browned and crispy exterior.  And reducing the amount of water won’t help, neither will adding things like bread crumbs or eggs.  That said, there is a way to keep goetta from falling apart and to ensure the patties keep shape.

Pro Tips for Cooking Goetta

There are 5 keys to cooking goetta so that it holds together, keeps it shape, and browns nicely:

  • The first key to helping them keep shape is slicing them thickly (at least 1/2 inch thick).
  • The second key is to avoid using any oil whatsoever.  Oil will only make it soggier and fall apart more.  Just use a dry non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Again, no oil.
  • The third key is waiting until the pan is preheated over medium heat and then letting them fry long enough on both sides to firm them up a bit.  Fry them for 5-8 minutes on the first side until the top changes color (it’s very light/almost white to begin with and will become a little yellower in color,) and the bottom is fully browned.  Then carefully flip it and brown the other side (this side will cook faster).
  • The fourth key is to avoid pushing or pressing down on the patties.
  • The fifth key is to leave it alone while it’s frying.  Don’t push down on it or try to move it before it’s fully browned on the bottom or it will stick.  Also, do not to overcrowd the pan.

Keep in mind, after implementing each of these tips the patties still won’t be “firm” – they’re not supposed to be.  Ignore the imperfections in shape or appearance, just shovel the goetta onto your fork and into your mouth and then chew it with complete satisfaction.  Equipped with these 5 Keys To Goetta Success, it’s time to make some goetta!

Goetta Recipe

Let’s get started!

Place the broth, oats, water, salt, bay leaves and marjoram in a large pot.  Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s soft and the liquid is absorbed.

adding oats broth and herbs to pot

Add the meat, onions, garlic and spices.  Return to a boil then reduce to low, cover and cook for another hour, stirring occasionally.  If the liquid has not all been absorbed, remove the lid and continue to cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened.

adding meat onions and spices to pot

Pour and press the mixture into 2 (9×5) greased loaf pans and let cool completely.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

goetta recipe best homemade cincinnati kentucky sausage grain patties breakfast

To serve, cut into thick slices, at least 1/2 inch (otherwise they’ll fall apart), and fry them in batches in a non-stick pan without any oil.  Fry them on both sides for 4-5 minutes or until nicely browned.  Serve immediately.

goetta recipe best homemade cincinnati kentucky sausage grain patties breakfast

Enjoy!

goetta recipe best homemade cincinnati kentucky sausage grain patties breakfast

For more delicious homemade sausage recipes be sure to try our:

Originally published on The Daring Gourmet July 18, 2018

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