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.
(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.
• 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.