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Goetta is a blend of oats, pork, beef, whole grain and seasonings, brought to the U.S. by German immigrants who moved to the Cincinnati, Ohio, area in the late 1800s. Traditionally, it's a breakfast sausage, often prepared like sausage patties. The product is also available in link and bun form, as well as in a burger format, and it is no longer just a breakfast item.
This sausage is made from ground meat, often from the pork shoulder, but it sometimes also contains beef. It is seasoned with bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, sage, salt and pepper, and it sometimes contains onions or other vegetables. In a breakfast meal, goetta is often served with ketchup, jelly, sugar, or syrup.
If made from scratch, the ingredients are mixed and simmered until thick. The mixture is then poured into loaf pans and refrigerated until firm before being sliced for frying or frozen for later use.
Originally, goetta was a peasant dish that stretched the amount of meat available over several days. A similar product known as scrapple is popular in the Pennsylvania Dutch area. Along with pork, scrapple contains cornmeal, as opposed to the oats used in goetta. It's a regional favorite in the greater Cincinnati region, and although there are several local producers, although most commercial product consumed in the area comes from just one manufacturer.
Over time, festivals celebrating goetta became popular. One such event began in 2001 and is known as the “original” Goettafest. It is held in Covington, Kentucky, in MainStrausse Village, an area of businesses and restaurants located a few blocks from the Ohio River. Another festival honoring the German sausage like-product is held nearby at Newport, Kentucky, in August. Both festivals encompass food, dancing, art, music and other entertainment.
The food that was first a cold-weather breakfast staple has actually become hip. As the popularity of the product spread, goetta pizza and even Reuben sandwiches are sold. The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati even sells burgers and dogs made from the sausage in its concession stands. Also known as oatmeal sausage, it is readily available in grocery stores in the Northern Kentucky and Southwestern Ohio areas, and local restaurants feature it in omelets, hash, nachos, and other dishes.