Thursday, August 12, 2010

Goetta - A Porkie/Oatie/Yummy Regional Discovery

My husband's all-time favorite breakfast meat isn't crispy bacon, pork sausage or even country ham (though country ham does run a close second). He prefers something a bit more daring. Perhaps something made by grinding pork "scraps" and cornmeal together, slicing it thin and frying it until golden, golden brown. I'm talking about scrapple folks!

Scrapple was originally created by the Pennsylvania Dutch (some say it's the first "pork food" invented in America. It's very popular in the Philadelphia area, but also popular in the South East. I mean, Nick was eating scrapple for YEARS before we moved to Philly. I think our first breakfast together in Richmond featured a few slices of scrapple. Now, not everyone likes it, but those who do seem to not just like it...they love it.

So when we moved to Louisville the first thing Nick looked for was his beloved scrapple. Head held low he approached me in the grocery store and informed me that he couldn't find scrapple anywhere. I looked at his puppy dog expression and revisited the breakfast meat department in search of a substitute. Amazingly enough I found one...Goetta.

Now, before I continue I want to explain that I'm a huge fan of regional delights. Discovering regional foods is a true passion of mine. From my hometown's Taylor Pork Roll - to Montreal's claim to fame, Poutine. From the Weisswurste sausages in Munich - to the German influenced Goetta of my new home .... if it's part of the culture, and safe for human consumption, I'll WILL eat it.

Goetta, it seems, is much like scrapple. It's base is ground pork "bits". It is cooked in a similar fashion and it's texture, before cooking (and after) is crumbly and delicate. It was created by German immigrants and is popular (or at least sold) in the Cincinnati metro area (including the fine states of Kentucky and Indiana).

The thing that sets Goetta apart from it's cousin scrapple is the filler. Scrapple uses meal, while Goetta uses chopped or steel-cut oats. The oats (and seasoning too I imagine) impart a much sweeter flavor to the meat, making me think it would be awesome with some maple syrup. I wouldn't try that with scrapple as it has a more savory, almost livery flavor.

Texture is key as well. Scrapple has an almost pudding consistency when cooked. A nice crust on the outside breaks through to a very soft center. Goetta doesn't have that pudding-like-consistency. The large cut oats and coarse grind of the meat makes it more crumbly, and almost hash like.

The last obvious difference is the color. Scrapple is, unfortunately, gray. I mean, really, really gray (I'm sure Nick would say that gray is the color of flavor). Goetta on the other hand is a much more appealing tan (most likely due to those delightful oats again.

Now, Nick doesn't like Goetta as much as scrapple. And he'll be the first to tell you. But I like it just fine and I'm happy to have a new regional food to play around with. Case in lunch...a GLT.

Yup. That's right. A GLT. It's a BLT with Goetta instead of bacon. I thought I was blazing new trails but it looks like the Glier's Goetta web site beat me to the recipe. No worries though. It doesn't change the fact that it's delicious...any way you slice it.

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