Cincinnati's goetta dogs

What is goetta? A sausage widely celebrated in Cincinnati that can be eaten for breakfast, on a sandwich, on a pizza... and especially as a hotdog.

A Palatable Pastime
Top your goetta dog with mustard and sauerkraut.

In the Queen City of Ohio, Cincinnati, we love our wursts and we take it to an art form.

Bratwurst, mettwursts, bockwurst, knockwurst, Italian sausage, Portuguese sausage, Kielbasa and other smoked sausages make up the greater part of those “art supplies,” but perhaps none so distinctive of us here in southwest Ohio than Goetta, a name that simultaneously frightens the uninformed and whets the taste buds of the experienced.

Have you eaten goetta? First it helps to know how to say the word so that when you ask your butcher for some, you won’t get "a look." Here in Ohio, we call it “get-uh”, as in “get a load of this,” “get a life,” and of course, as in this post, “get a dog.”

The major manufacturer of commercially prepared goetta in Ohio is Gliers, who sell their product in one pound bulk packages in the meat section of the market, near the bacon and breakfast sausage. If you are lucky, you might find goetta dogs packaged there as well, with the mixture inside of casings, as hot dogs are.

To be sure, even though it is sold near the breakfast sausage, this item isn’t really intended for breakfast. Of course, you can have it that way if you like, commonly sliced into thick coins and fried. And even though the heritage of the area is predominately German, Germans actually have "no idea" what goetta is, as it is a creation of southwest Ohio among other things (like Cincinnati chili).

We can eat goetta on the plate, in a goetta dog, made into “cheesesteaks,” on pizza, the list goes on from here into eccentrically delicious territory.

Annually, there is a goetta fest down on the levee in Newport (the Kentucky side of downtown Cincinnati). We in Ohio, southeast Indiana and Northern Kentucky wrack our brains trying to figure out new ways to celebrate food. Beginning in late summer, you will see towns dot the maps with a whole spectrum of different food festivals, because we love a good reason to get out in the fresh air, have a bite to eat, and something to look at and listen to, such as fine art and live music. And the goetta fest is one of many ways we do just that.

Of course, if you live in southwest Ohio, you probably already know all that. And have eaten goetta, and can buy it at the local Kroger market. But if you don’t, and find yourself in a food desert devoid of all things Cincinnati, you can find recipes on the internet for making goetta yourself. Traditionally, goetta has been made since the 1880′s as a mixture of steel-cut pinhead oats, beef, pork, onions and seasonings. It tastes like sausage with a bit of grain in it, but the grain is very mild tasting. It is quite savory and has a softer texture that bulk pork sausage, although it can be a bit firmer if it is casings.

I don’t put the goetta in casings to make the goetta dogs. They are shaped, and if you can brown them with a gentle touch, all they will lack from the goetta dogs in the casings is that pop when you bite them, but some people don’t like casings anyway. The taste in the end is still just the same.

I do hope you aren't too timid to try these. They are quite a bit like brats with kraut if you like those. They make a great snack or sandwich for a casual meal or for die-hard football fans (Go Bengals!)

Goetta dogs
Serves 4

1 pound prepared goetta (such as Glier’s brand)

1/4 cup German mustard or Dussledorf mustard

1/2-3/4 cup hot drained sauerkraut

2-3 tablespoons oil

1. Cut open roll of goetta and slice into four pieces lengthwise.

2. Use your hands to roll into a smooth cyclinder

3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet, and brown goetta dogs on all sides, turning very carefully to avoid breakage, and keeping them separated so they don’t try to stick to each other.

4. Serve on hot dog buns with mustard and sauerkraut.

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