A lesson in breakfast family history

I spent Sunday morning at my Dad's house in Indiana helping him make his signature dish, Goetta.  It's my first of many personal food interviews/cooking sessions that I hope to conduct with a variety of people in my life and share here.  What better place to start than with family?  This hearty breakfast dish means many things to him, and in turn, to me.

There are two things you need to know about my Dad before we continue: he is a breakfast and grill man.  He loves breakfast and has quite a large repertoire, Goetta being at the forefront of his portfolio.  He is also deftly skilled on the grill with all types of meats.  Summer weekends at my house growing up consisted of my Dad at the grill with a martini and my sister, Mom and I shucking fresh farmer's market Indiana sweet corn- the white stuff.  God's food in my opinion. 

I have many food memories that surround my Dad and I love the fact that he's focused all of his culinary skills on two key areas, although occasionally he'll go on a run of soup-making.  He's also known for standing at the open refrigerator with spoon in hand, eating the last of any containers of cottage cheese or leftovers before they go bad.  He hates seeing things go bad.  I also remember him drinking milk with ice cubes which is very, very wrong in my book.  Then again, so is eating whole sugar cubes and butter straight from the dish, but he enjoys doing both of these things.

Back to the Goetta.  Upon delving further into why my Dad loves goetta so much, I uncovered several little gems that are really the reason why I'm writing this blog.  I've eaten this dish so many times and only ever knew half the story.  In fact it's the first time I've seen him make it and because I don't own a pressure cooker, and I've never attempted it myself. 

My Dad's family is from German descent, which is where Goetta comes from.  It is apparently very popular in Cincinnati among the German community and there is even a Goettafest that I am seriously considering adding to my summer festival schedule.  This particular recipe can be traced back to my Dad's paternal Grandmother, Frances Fry.  While we were researching the recipe's history, we got out the old family bible that had all of our family's births and deaths recorded dating back to the 1800's.  It included an original photo of my Great-Great Grandparents, Bernard and Elizabeth Fye before our name was changed to Fry.  This really is a family recipe and my Dad has fond memories of his own mother, Betty, making this for him and his sisters during the winter.

Today, my Dad spends most of his winters making continuous batches of Goetta in his pressure cooker.  Then he freezes it and takes it up to our place in Michigan or kindly delivers a large tupperware container of it to me and my sister when visiting Chicago.  I knew there was a reason I moved back to the US.

Tom's Goetta

5 lb pork shoulder (loin)
2 1/2 cups steel cut oats
2 tsp salt
1 tsp whole black peppercorn
1 tsp whole allspice
1 onion finely chopped
1 bay leaf
pinch of thyme
7 cups of water

Salt & pepper the meat.  Add a small amount of cooking oil in a pressure cooker and brown the meat on all sides.  If your pork shoulder is too large, I would suggest doing this in another pan so you can get all sides browned, but just make sure you add all of the juiced from that pan to the pressure cooker. 

Add 5 cups of water (which should cover the meat), all the spices and the chopped onion.  Pressure cook for 1 1/2 ours.  Release the pressure immediately.  You can cool the pressure cooker by running it under cool water if neeed.  Remove the meat leaving all of the stock in the pressure cooker.

Add remaining 2 cups of water to the stock along with the oats. Stir and cook over medium-high heat with the pressure cooker lid off for 20 minutes.  

While the oats are cooking, remove the pork from the bone.  It should pull away easily.  Cut the meat into small pieces with kitchen shears.

When the oats are done, it will be the consistency of oatmeal.  At this point, add the pork and stir together.

It's best if this is left to sit overnight in the fridge to allow the flavors to develop.  You can then freeze it if you're not going to cook it straight away.

When you're ready to cook it, heat a non-stick skillet and melt 1 tbsp of butter in the pan.  Add the Goetta in spoonfuls and flatten with a spatula.  Allow it to brown on one side before flipping it over to make it golden and crispy.

Serve with fried eggs and toast for a very hearty breakfast.  Having just eaten this over the weekend, I would suggest a long walk or some type of outdoor activity, such as chopping wood, to work this off the gut.


  1. Ahhh, Goetta. Dad gave us some to take home (frozen of course) and it was gone within 2 days!

  2. Well hello Aunt Lisa. I seem to have found your blog on the tinternet while looking for delicious food.

    Nice post! I like it.

    You know there's an old German saying.... Goetta is best when cooked by the "Gramps".

    Meats me! Talk to you later Aunt Lisa.

    Signed, Cousin Drew (not really)

  3. Gotta love that goetta!! I am really enjoying your blog. I didn't know we had yet another foodie in the family. I would love to cook and eat with you sometime!

  4. Thanks Val!! Would love to catch up with you and Becky in the near future!