Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vegan Goetta

Welcome to Quickies Challenge Winner Spotlight Thursday

Denise and I are stoked to announce that next week we will be unvieling the next Quickes Challenge but for now...

I am very happy to welcome the winner of our inaugural Quickies Challenge Jill from The Homegrown Gourmet. She is a caterer and writer that hails from my home state of Florida. Her blog is a fantastic resource for great cooking information, recipes, and writing. In addition, she makes some very tasty vegan food.  Please visit The Homegrown Gourmet, you will not leave disappointed and are sure to make a new friend.


Hi, I’m Jill or Jilly as most everyone calls me. I’m a caterer, freelance writer and hard core foodie. As some of you may know, I entered a contest hosted by Lazaro and Denise from Quickies on the Dinner Table. The challenge was to combine feta cheese and avocado in one dish and the prize was a copy of Denise’s most excellent cook book,  Quickies: Morning, Noon, and Night and a guest post on Lazaro’s highly acclaimed blog. Not to gloat, but obviously I won so here I am!  

I peruse Lazaro’s blog all the time and when it came down to writing this article, I was hard pressed to decide on a recipe worthy of the talent he continually features in his own posts and those of his guest posters. In the end I chose something that I hope is unique and educational at the same time.

When my oldest daughter was 2 years old, my ex was hired by a company in Cincinnati Ohio. We packed up and left Chicago without so much as a glance over our shoulders. That was in 1984. We settled in a small community across the Ohio River from Cinci in the area collectively known as Northern Kentucky. Ok, I’m making this sound like we were pioneers who hacked our way through the forest to build a homestead. It wasn’t quite like that. I’m no Ma Ingalls! It was more like U-haul arrived, plopped all our stuff down in the middle of the living room floor, asked for a check and left us there buried in our junk.

Immediately (like the first day) we discovered one of the truly great culinary oddities of all time…Cincinnati Chili. There was a Chili parlor within walking distance of our apartment and so there we found ourselves; exhausted, disheveled and displaced but enthusiastically enjoying what would become the first of many “5-ways”. Don’t get excited, it’s nothing like THAT! For those not familiar with the Cincinnati Chili phenomenon; it is made with only meat and a rich cinnamon spiked, spicy sauce. Everything else is ordered separately. Hence a 3-way is chili over spaghetti noodles topped with huge mounds of shredded cheddar. Add onions and you have a 4-way; add beans and you have the granddaddy of them all…a 5-way!

The original chili recipe is said to have come from Greek immigrants who opened the first chili parlor in the Cincinnati area. This makes sense to me, as it is not unusual to find cinnamon in savory Greek dishes. There are many recipes out there for Cincinnati Chili but legend has it that the original, authentic recipe has never been divulged.

With its heritage of mixed ethnicity, other groups emerged to influence the culinary landscape of the Queen City; the Germans, Irish and Scots. With them came an influx of sausages of every shape, size and description. There is one however, that became and still is utterly indigenous to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky. That my friends would be the mysterious and oh so misunderstood Goetta.

Now ask any Cincinnatian of German descent what Goetta is and they are likely to tell you it is akin to Scrapple. Steel cut oats are cooked with spices, onions and a mixture of pork and beef until the whole is one great grey glob that can be shaped into a loaf or roll, chilled, sliced and pan fried. Ask someone of Scottish or Irish descent and he’s likely to tell you that Goetta is a transmutation of Haggis brought to the Queen City via immigrant pioneers from Kentucky.

The original pronunciation of the word was “go-ta” but over the years it has come to be called “gedda” or “getta”. Oddly enough, most people outside the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area have no clue what it is…no matter how you pronounce it.

This is definitely one of those dishes that developed out of the necessity to stretch a small amount of meat to feed a larger amount of hungry people. Originally it was probably made with scraps of meat leftover from something else or organ meats. In other words, the parts you didn’t necessarily want to think about whilst eating them! Depending upon the German/Pennsylvania Dutch or Irish/Scottish interpretation you either used steel cut/pin head oats or polenta.

Over the years, the recipe evolved from using offal to the inclusion of ground meat, generally pork. Despite having lived in Northern Kentucky for twenty years, I never managed to successfully swallow a bite of Goetta without shuddering. Don’t get me wrong, it tastes really good…it was that whole mystery meat phobia thing. Plus, somehow boiled ground pork just seemed so fundamentally odd and in my humble opinion, ANY meat that is grey in color signals my brain to think bad, bad juju. Shortly after, vegetarianism began to appeal to me greatly!

A recent trip to Northern Kentucky to visit my grown daughters led us to a little coffee shop in a trendy area of downtown Cincinnati for brunch. Mokka, as it is called has been hailed to have the best “Goetta Combo Breakfast” in Cincinnati which my two non-vegetarian daughters promptly ordered. My one vegetarian daughter commented that it looked good but of course would not eat it. That set off a chain reaction in my head.

On the plane back home; and may I interject here that I was sadly NOT on Steven Slater’s parting flight with Jet Blue, I started thinking of how I could make a totally vegan rendition of Goetta. When the steward handed me my complimentary packet of 3 dry roasted peanuts, I didn’t even look up. My tray table down, head spinning with ratios etc…I was furiously scribbling out the tentative recipe.

Within a matter of days after my return, a loaf pan of fresh vegan Goetta was chilling in the fridge and my greedy little hands could hardly stand the wait. The next day, I removed the loaf from the pan, sliced off a nice slab and pan fried it in a bit of olive oil. My tongue was blistered for two days because of impatience but when a recipe works…it’s alright. It’s a sacrifice we’ve all made for the sake of our craft right?

To round out this hearty vegan breakfast, I’ve also prepared some scrambled tofu to serve with my golden, crispy Goetta. The “meat” in my Goetta is no mystery. Its extra firm tofu with most of the liquid pressed out. If you’re looking for an uncomplicated method of extracting water from tofu try this: open the package and pour off the water. Place the tofu in a plastic container that is slightly too short for it and then smoosh that lid down anyway. Stash it in the fridge and every so often, go pour the accumulated water out. I do this a day before I want to use it and it’s perfect for this recipe. You may be asking yourself why anyone would want to eat what essentially amounts to fried oatmeal but at least give it a try before passing judgment.

Vegan Goetta

(This was made in the slow cooker/crock pot)

• 1 ¼ cups organic Steel Cut Oats (may be called Irish or Pin Head Oats)

• 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth

• 3 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 large sweet yellow onion, grated

• 2 dried bay leaves

• 1 teaspoon crumbled dried sage leaves

• 1 ½ teaspoons dried poultry seasoning

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 2 pinches dried red pepper flakes *optional

• ½ block extra firm organic tofu, drained and excess water pressed out

• Oil for frying

*Note: If you find that the oats get dry before done, add additional broth or water. This may also be done on the stove top in a heavy sauce pan but frankly, who wants to baby sit a vat of oatmeal?

1. Rinse and drain oats. Pour vegetable broth into crock pot and set temperature to low. Add the oats, olive oil and all remaining ingredients except tofu; stir to combine. Place the lid on crock pot and cook mixture for approximately 1 ½ - 2 hours or until all the liquid is absorbed and oats are thick and tender. They will be chewy and this is just what you want. Remove bay leaves and discard.

2. Place tofu in a medium bowl and crumble with a fork until you have very small pieces; about the size of large curd cottage cheese. Stir the tofu into the oat mixture.

3. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap to facilitate unmolding once the Goetta is set. Scrape oat mixture into the prepared pan and use a greased spatula or wet hands to flatten the top and compress the loaf. Fold overhanging plastic wrap up around the loaf to cover. Refrigerate Goetta at least 12 hours but overnight is best.

4. When ready to serve, peel wrap back from the top of the loaf and invert onto a cutting board. Remove the plastic film and slice Goetta into approximately ½ inch slices or whatever thickness you desire.

5. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat; add Goetta slices. Fry the Goetta over medium heat until very browned and crisped on the first side; turn and fry second side. Goetta is best when fried very, very crisp. If your heat is too high, your Goetta will just brown on the outside and not dry in the center. It will probably fall apart. Drain on paper towels and serve warm with Scrambled Tofu and farm fresh sliced tomatoes for the perfect vegan breakfast.

Scrambled Tofu

• Half package of organic tofu, crumbled into medium pieces

• Coconut oil for sautéing

• Salt and pepper to taste

• ¼ teaspoon dried mustard powder

• Pinch of turmeric

• 1/8 tsp garlic powder

• 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast *optional if you feel a little short on b-vitamins

1. Place tofu in a bowl and use a fork to break into medium curds. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil; add the mustard powder, turmeric and garlic powder to the oil and swirl to combine.

2. Add tofu crumbles to the skillet and toss gently to coat with seasoning mixture. Cook over medium heat until hot. You may allow some of the curds to brown slightly if you like them that way. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle top with nutritional yeast if desired. Serve warm with Vegan Goetta.

It has truly been my honor and pleasure to write this guest post for Lazaro’s wonderful blog. Thank you for the invitation Lazaro and thanks to all your faithful readers. I am certainly in some elite company here!

Please check out Jill's blog The Homegrown Gourmet, I know you wil find a great new blog to read.


  1. Lovely guest post! Jill, you're a really captivating writer and I really enjoyed this post! I would love to start the day with a gorgeous breakfast like that!

  2. Hi Jilly. Lovely post here. I had never heard of Goetta. I am a non-vegetarian, but like your daughters I think I could get into this!

  3. The contrast in textures of the two preparations with tofu is very neat! I would definitely love to try this!

  4. Lovely platter. Exciting new dish!

  5. Never heard of Goetta, but I think I would have no problem eating the real thing. I'm a huge fan of tofu and would relish your breakfast platter, so good does it look.

    Thank you Laz, for so graciously sharing the spotlight with the talented Jilly!

  6. I have always wanted to try and make something like this and have put it off because the ammount of effort and the fact that my monkeys might not eat it has stopped me- I really think I might be able to pull this one off.
    thanks for sharing- great post.

  7. Jill, I've only been reading your blog for a few days but I'm in love with your blog and your recipes. This is such a fantastic and intriguing recipe, one that I hope to try one day! :)

  8. oh, yum! I love vegan breakfast ideas... great job!

  9. Hi Jill,

    Thank you for introducing me to Goetta. I've never heard of this dish before. I must agree with your choice of turning this into a vegan dish as I'm not a huge fan of pork. I love that you also used coconut oil for the tofu. Wonderful dish all around, thank you for sharing.

    Thank you for another lovely guest post Lazarro!

  10. Thanks everyone! Daisy, I'm not surprised you'd never heard of Goetta. No one outside the Cincinnati area ever seems to know what it is...LOL

  11. Hi Jill, nice to meet you! I've never had Goetta before too but it looks absolutely delicious and healthy! Also, your tofu scramble egg is genius! It's full with flavor, light, and healthy. Great dish!

  12. I love her recipes and this one is awesome!

  13. Tofu is such a great meat substitute. The vegan goetta sounds wonderful and I would love to have some of that scrambled tofu.

  14. Hi Lazaro
    thanks for letting Jill guest post, she did an outstanding job!
    i want no parts of the grey meat do you make vegan food look so good???? that Goetta looks great and my head is spinning how can you make tofu look like eggs....i have to lie down for awhile now....sigh

  15. I actually am from Cincinnati and know what goetta is. But it takes a truly innovative culinary mind to conceive of vegan goetta! Great post, Jill. Off to check out your blog and see what else you have in store.

  16. First to Lazaro, beautiful choice for a guest poster on your most lovely blog. Second, Jilly...OMG so fantastic. I loved every word, and the recipes are splendid. Wonderful guest post :)

  17. This is so clever! Great job Jill and Lazaro for picking a great guest blogger :)

  18. What a fun read, and I loved learning a bit about the foods of Cinci! I have a friend from there who speaks lovingly about Cincinnati chili. What a great read and thank you Lazaro for introducing us to Jilly - I had a blast!

  19. For everyone who has left a are all so kind! Thanks again...and thanks to you Lazaro!

  20. While I truly admire the vegan initiative, I have not found any of the food enjoyable. Well, not any that is meant as a substitute for something else. This looks very nutritious, and I enjoyed the read very much, but I would not be able to eat it.

  21. wonderful post , i love jilly's blog, she always has something wonderful to share...great dishes I have just started my ventures with tofu and wow great dish full of flavor!!


  22. i just came across this when i google searched "vegan goetta." i am a born and bred cincinnatian but more recent vegetarian, and i was looking for some goetta to bring to easter brunch. this is perfect! that you for the recipe!

    p.s. jill, next time you are in cincinnati, take your vegetarian daughter to honey in northside for brunch - they have vegan goetta on the menu there!

  23. I just came across this while looking up vegan geotta for Easter as well. Born and raised in Cincinnati but living in Salt Lake City, I was so glad to see that someone had come up with a vegan version of this hometown favorite. I've already made it and it is "setting" as a type! Thanks!

  24. Been looking for a way to make vegitarian goetta. Gonna give it a try but instead of tofu, I would think some of the immi ground meat products, such as Morning Star etc would work well.

  25. I made this. I doubled the batch, gave one to my dil. It looks, smells and fries up like the real thing. We have had it three times this week from the 1 loaf. From Cincinnati so goetta is a staple, So thankful to find a vegan version.

  26. Melt in northside Cinci also has a delicious vegan goetta pesto sandwich on their brunch menu. I'm normally not a big fan of vegan food but it was amazing.


Have Your Say!