go to basket


Fried goetta with its most elegant accompaniment: spiced applesauce.

One 2-pound loaf; 6 to 8 servings


Goetta is best made over a 2-day period, for serving on the third day. Roast and mince the meat and make the stock on day 1; finish the goetta on day 2; and serve it on day 3.


The odyssey of goetta, a chewy, spiced loaf sausage made of oats and cooked meat—which appeared contemporaneously with an influx of German immigrants in Cincinnati—starts with a case of mistaken identity. In Cincinnati, goetta (pronounced GET-tah) is described as German breakfast sausage. (Funny, isn’t it, how the oe placeholder for ö—think Goethe—makes it look really, really German?) But in Lower Saxony, where an oat sausage remarkably like goetta dates back centuries, there is kein sausage named goetta. The regional German name is Knipp or Hackgrütze. And though no one seems eager to posit how goetta got here (maybe it appeared with a Gartenzwerk in someone’s dim ancestral dream) or why it changed its name when it arrived, goetta certainly represents the continuation of an old, important foodway.

On blogs and other Cincinnati-centric websites, a lot of people seem to be trying to find a good recipe for goetta, or to figure out why theirs isn’t as good as their mother-in-law’s. When you scan recipes and see ingredients like bouillon cubes and boiled ground meat, you gotta know someone’s been taking a LOT of shortcuts with a family heirloom. Goetta, as a descendent of Knipp, belongs to the cooked-meat category of sausages in Germany. (The other two general categories are (1) sausages made from raw meat, then aged—such as Jagerwurst or salami and (2) sausages processed with finely ground meat and shaved ice into an homogenous texture—like mortadella. Any of the three might be smoked or unsmoked.)

In its efforts to stretch leftover meats and grains into sausage, goetta (or Knipp) also belongs squarely in the category of poor people’s food. Leftover meats would certainly have come off of a roast or a soup bone, which is what we ultimately used; raw ground meat is what most contemporary recipes demand.

As we mentioned in our newsletter, Anson Mills oats required rather intense finessing to get them to comply with the terms of goetta. We cannot cook them for hours, nor are they inclined to produce a ton of starch until they are cooked well beyond their druthers.

Goetta may belong to a niche cuisine. Its production may be a labor of love. But in its crispy, chewy, savory slices, you will taste how deeply the heritage flavors of this loaf sausage reach into the past.

Cooking Remarks

Homemade beef stock is essential for packing flavor into goetta. We augment our excellent stock recipe with pork spareribs and extra beef that make their way eventually into the goetta. We also collect the fat drippings from the roasting pan after the bones and vegetables have roasted. A couple of teaspoons of these aromatic drippings will be used to fry the goetta—and believe it when we tell you this stuff is delicious!

The herbs in goetta are traditionally dried and dispossessed of any leafiness. This means ground. Years ago, ground was the default preparation for supermarket herbs. Today, sage can be found ground, but dried rosemary and thyme are jars of teeny sticks. You can grind them in an electric coffee grinder—the trick is to begin with rather a lot (a couple of tablespoons, grind away, and then winnow the powder through a fine-mesh strainer. Spoon it into a small jar and seal it with a lid.) We have a slight preference for rosemary over thyme in this recipe, but either is excellent.

Pay attention to the timing on this recipe: there is a balance between liquid ratios and cooking times that must be observed to keep the oats in their optimal state. It is also important that the minced meat be hot when you mix it in with the oats as we advise below.

equipment mise en place

To make the stock and stock reduction, you will need a large flameproof roasting pan, a baking dish or large plate, a chef’s knife, a heavy-bottomed 8-quart stockpot, a slotted spoon, a fine-mesh strainer, a small bowl, a wooden spoon, a chinois or large fine-mesh strainer, a large heatproof bowl, a medium saucepan, and a digital kitchen scale.

To make the seasoning mix and sausage, you will need a coffee or spice grinder, a medium heatproof bowl and a correspondingly sized saucepan, aluminum foil, a 12-inch nonstick skillet with a lid, an 8- by 4-inch loaf pan, a small offset spatula or sharp paring knife, a serrated knife, and a flexible metal spatula.

  • for the meat, stock, and stock reduction:

    • 2
      pounds beef shanks (2 large shanks)
    • 2
      pounds meaty oxtails
    • pounds pork spareribs, cut between the bones into 2-rib sections
    • 2
      cups red wine or spring or filtered water, plus 3 quarts water for the stock
    • 3
      medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
    • 3
      small carrots, peeled and chopped
    • 3
      celery ribs, chopped
    • 12
      garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
    • 2
      tablespoons tomato paste
    • Handful of fresh thyme sprigs or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
    • Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
    • 6
      Turkish bay leaves
    • 1
      tablespoon black peppercorns
  • for the seasoning mix:

    • 1
      teaspoon fine sea salt
    • teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
    • Scant 1 teaspoon ground sage
    • ½
      teaspoon ground dried rosemary or thyme (see Cooking Remarks)
  • for the sausage:

  • for serving:

    • Apple butter, applesauce, or fried or scrambled eggs

    Day 1 Roast the meat and make the stock: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the shanks, oxtails, and spareribs in a single layer in a large flameproof roasting pan. Roast until the meats are richly browned and the shanks and spareribs are tender, turning them once or twice, about 2 hours; as they are done, transfer the shanks and spareribs to a baking dish or large platter to cool slightly. When only the oxtails remain in the roasting pan, toss in the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and tomato paste and continue to roast until the vegetables take color, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour more.


    When the spareribs and shanks are cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones; discard any fat, gristle, and cartilage and return the bones to the roasting pan in the oven. With a chef’s knife, chop the meat until very finely minced (fig. 2.1). You should have 8 to 9 ounces (2 cups lightly packed); if you have more, save it for a soup. Put the minced meat into an airtight container and refrigerate until needed.


    When the vegetables are golden brown, use a slotted spoon to transfer them, along with the bones and oxtails, to a heavy-bottomed 8-quart stockpot. Pour the fat that has collected in the roasting pan through a fine-mesh strainer set over a small bowl. Set the fat aside; cover and refrigerate it when cooled. Place the roasting pan on two burners set to high heat and pour in the red wine or water. Scrape up the browned bits on the pan bottom, and then pour the liquid into the stockpot. Add the 3 quarts of water, the thyme, parsley, 2 of the bay leaves, and the peppercorns. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the stock is deeply rich in flavor, 4 to 5 hours more, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer and adding additional water if too much simmers away.


    Strain the stock through a chinois or large fine-mesh strainer into a large heatproof bowl; you should have 1½ to 2 quarts. Let the stock cool slightly, and then refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight until it is firm and gelatinous. 


    Day 2 Make the stock reduction: Take the stock from the refrigerator and remove and discard the congealed fat from its surface. Measure 32 ounces (1 quart) of it into a medium saucepan; reserve the rest for another use. Add the remaining 4 bay leaves to the stock, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and reduce the stock until it measures 20 ounces (2½ cups). Remove from the heat, cover, and let cool to room temperature (the stock will continue to evaporate as it cools).


    Make the seasoning mix: While the stock cools, combine the salt, pepper, sage, and rosemary or thyme in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside. 


    Warm the meat and make the goetta: Transfer the reserved minced meat to a medium heatproof bowl, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and set the bowl over a correspondingly sized saucepan filled with about 3 inches of water. Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and warm the meat until hot, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes (fig. 7.1).


    Meanwhile, spoon 2 teaspoons of the reserved fat into a 12-inch nonstick skillet and heat over medium-low heat until the fat melts. Add the shallots and seasoning mix (fig. 8.1) and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the oats (fig. 8.2) and remove the skillet from the heat.


    Measure out 18 ounces (2¼ cups) of the cooled stock reduction and pour it into the skillet (fig. 9.1). Stir well, and then spoon off any hulls that rise to the surface, taking care not to lose any broth in the process. Set the pan over high heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring all the while. When the oats reach a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low or low (depending on how hot your burner runs), and cover the skillet. Set a timer for 4 minutes; stir once or twice during that time, replacing the lid as quickly as possible. Remove the skillet from the heat and set a timer for 5 minutes to allow the oats to repose. After the 5 minutes, uncover the skillet and stir the oats. They should look moist, but have no excess liquid (fig. 9.2). Add the warmed meat and stir well to combine. Pack the mixture into an 8- by 4-inch loaf pan (fig. 9.3), smoothing and tamping with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon as you go. Let cool to room temperature, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.


    Unmold and fry the goetta: When you are ready to serve, remove the loaf pan from the fridge and run a small offset spatula or sharp paring knife between the goetta and the edges of the pan, canting the blade against the pan so as not to cut into the goetta. Invert the loaf pan onto the palm of your hand and extending up your forearm. Run hot tap water onto the bottom of the pan until the goetta slurps out onto your arm. (Yes, it works!) Set the goetta wide side down onto a cutting board (fig. 10.1) and use a serrated knife to slice as many ½-inch-thick pieces as you want to fry. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the reserved fat into a 12-inch nonstick skillet and place over medium heat. When the fat is hot, gently place the goetta slices in the skillet (they are fragile!) and fry until golden, about 2 minutes. Slip a flexible metal spatula underneath the slices, carefully turn them, and fry the second sides until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to plates for serving. As it cools, the goetta will become firmer. Serve warm with apple butter, applesauce, or eggs.

    1. 2.1
    1. 7.1
    1. 8.1
    2. 8.2
    1. 9.1
    2. 9.2
    3. 9.3
    1. 10.1

Step photography by Kathy Rose