During my brief stint in the Queen City, I wanted to sample one of those signature regional dishes exclusively found in the city of Cincinnati: Goetta. Goetta, for those of you as unacquainted as I was, is a breakfast patty style sausage of German American origin believed to have been developed by working class German immigrants in the mid 19th century. Composed of ground pork, beef, onions spices and steel cut oats, the dish is a holdover from times when meat budgets had to be stretched out over several meals. Today it stands as a cultural nuance unique to Cincinnati, and worthy of a sample.
Shortly after the Bearcats game, I made a bee line towards the historic Findlay Market in search of a place called Eckerlin Meats, rumored to have the best Goetta in town. In continuous operation since 1852, Eckerlin has been a family butcher shop for over 160 years, likely the oldest establishment I have visited on my travels. As I press into the tiny storefront, I’m greeted by Christa and her husband Bob, the 5th generation owners of the cozy butcher shop. With an enticing array of house cured meats tucked behind glass cases, I motion towards the Goetta, shelved in a long, pressed loaf.
After sharing my story with them, they generously offer to fire up the cooktop (already shut down for the day), and crisp up a few slices for me. Bob tells me that they go through about 500lbs of the stuff here a week at Eckerlin’s, and the city of Cincinnati consumes some 2 million lbs of the dish annually.
Already pre cooked the Goetta crisps up quickly. Christa presents me with a golden browned slice of the meat, along with a Goetta and egg breakfast sandwich. Crispy on the outside, the interior is chewy and filling, with notes of onion and mild spicing. After sampling both offerings, the dish most closely resembles scrapple or haggis. But the savory profile of pork and beef pairs perfectly with a few eggs, and this makes for one fantastic breakfast accompaniment.
Before I leave, I have Bob vacuum seal a few pounds of the stuff for me to take back to St. Louis. After a long night out on the town, Goetta deserves a shot in the vaunted hangover breakfast rotation and I’ll have a few chunks in the freezer ready to go…