Gotta Getta Goetta

I only recently learned about goetta, courtesy of a Clevelander with an appreciation of this Cincinnati treat. Although I am, technically, a Buckeye by virtue of my birth in the state, I haven’t been in Ohio since I was 3 years old. But after my newly found love of goetta, I feel a closer connection with my native state. As a bit of research, including the wonderfully informative Country Scrapple: An American Tradition, will tell you, this great culinary land of ours boasts a rich patchwork of meat/grain breakfast foods. Scrapple, liver mush (or pudding), ponhaus, boudin, goetta, whatever you call it, I call it porktastic. This particular gustatory tradition developed as an economical way to use the leftover parts from butchering to make a savory fried treat, and, apparently, give it a cool name. Goetta’s home is the area around the border of Ohio & Kentucky, and is centered in Cincinatti, where Goettafest! is held every August.  Although I had actually never tasted goetta before I made my first batch, I did my best to come up with a flavor and texture close to the real thing.  If you’re an experience go-goetta, give my recipe a try & let me know how I did!

Goetta
makes about ten 1-pound loaves or logs

5-pound pork butt
3/4 pound celery, roughly chopped
3/4 pound yellow onion, peeled & roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 fresh bay leaves
8 cups water
5 cups steel-cut (pinhead) oats
2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons sage
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds

In large stockpot, bring pork, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, & water to boil over high flame. Reduce flame to low, cover, and simmer 2 hours. Remove pork from stockpot (leave water in pot) and allow to rest until cool enough to handle. Cut pork into chunks & grind. Discard bay leaves from water, then remove other vegetables and feed them through the grinder as well. Return ground pork & vegetables to stockpot and add remaining ingredients. Bring to simmer over medium-high flame, stirring often; reduce flame to low, cover, and simmer 2 hours, stirring often. Remove pot from flame, allow to cool, and pour into greased mini loaf pans or roll into 1-pound plastic-wrapped logs. Refrigerate if using within a week; freeze for up to 3 months. To cook, cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch slices, then fry in a small amount of butter in a nonstick skillet or griddle until nicely browned.

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Rice, Corn & Feta Stuffed Peppers


Bell peppers, sweet, juicy, beautifully sculpted, and painted in a palette of vibrant colors, are abundant year round in the U.S., thanks to our southern neighbor Mexico, which grows them in great profusion. Often chopped or sliced and used as a flavoring or garnish, they are also excellent as the centerpiece of a dinner plate. This recipe sidesteps a ground-meat stuffing, aiming instead for a rich vegetarian filling guaranteed to satisfy the heartiest appetite. Enjoy!

Rice, Corn & Feta Stuffed Peppers
serves 4

4 bell peppers
2 tablespoons bacon grease or vegetable oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups frozen corn
6 ounces goat’s milk feta, crumbled
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Carefully cut a hole in the top of each pepper and remove seeds, core, and pithy ribs (a melon baller works well for the last). Cook peppers in boiling water for 2 minutes; drain. Sauté onion, garlic, & corn in bacon grease over medium-low flame until softened, about 5 minutes. Combine onion/garlic/corn mixture in large bowl with feta, rice, & black pepper. Spoon stuffing into peppers and top with Parmesan cheese. Lightly oil a baking dish that will hold the peppers comfortably, place peppers in dish, and bake in 375º oven for 30 minutes.

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Cream of Fennel Soup


And you didn’t know you needed another excuse to eat fennel, did you? Well, here it is. As an astute diner at my table recently pointed out, it’s kind of like a fennel vichyssoise. Creamy and smooth, rich with the exotic aromas of my favorite vegetable, Foeniculum vulgare, this soup is a perfect start to a fancy dinner. Top it with a little bacon if you dare. For wine, I recommend a nice Erbaluce, a fine Italian white from the Piedmont.

Cream of Fennel Soup
makes a bit more than a gallon

1/4 cup butter
1/4 pound shallots, peeled & minced (about 1/2 cup)
3 pounds fennel bulbs, quartered, cored, & diced 1/2 inch (about 3 bulbs; 8 cups)
3/4 pound white potatoes, peeled & diced 1/2 inch (about 2 cups)
2 quarts not-too-salty chicken stock
1 cup cream
3 teaspoons Absinthe
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
salt to taste

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté shallots in butter over medium-low flame until a little soft, about 5 minutes. Add fennel, potatoes, & stock and bring to a simmer over high flame. Reduce flame to low, cover, and simmer 40 minutes. Puree in batches in blender or food processor or food mill & return to (wiped out) pot. Add cream, Absinthe, & white pepper and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste for salt and serve.

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Red Chili


Football kicks off the decisive match-ups this time of year, and in honor of that, I present my latest chili recipe, Red Chili. This one focuses on the flavor of beef and tomato, adding just enough spice to make things interesting. And red it is: red tomatoes, red meat, red peppers, red beans . . . .  McCarthy might not have liked it, but I guarantee you will! Great with Cheesy Buttermilk Corn Sticks or Indian Corn Cake. Oh, and here’s the pot you want to use: French Oven.

Red Chili
makes about 3-1/2 quarts

2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 pounds coarsely ground beef chuck
2 medium yellow onions, diced (about 3 cups)
3 medium red bell peppers, diced (about 3 cups)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup Mexican hot chili powder
2 tablespoons oregano
cayenne to taste
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 16-ounce cans red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 cup water
3 tablespoons cider vinegar

In large French oven, heat oil over medium-high flame until smoking. Drop half of beef into oil and spread evenly. Allow to cook without stirring for 3 minutes, then stir occasionally until fully browned, about 2-3 minutes more. Remove with slotted spoon and repeat with remaining beef. After removing second batch of beef, add onions & pepper to pot and sauté, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, oregano, & cayenne and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add reserved cooked meat, tomatoes, beans, & water. Bring to simmer, cover, and simmer 1 hour. Stir in vinegar, cover, and simmer 5 more minutes. Taste for salt and serve.

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Turkey Tetrazinni


Turkey is certainly a common sight at holiday dinner tables this time of year, but there’s really no reason we shouldn’t be eating it year-round. Properly prepared, turkey breast is a versatile, low-fat meat whose subtle flavor and healthiness is easily reversed by comfort-food recipes. As an example, I offer my version of Tetrazinni, a dish named after an opera star (how can you go wrong) and chock-full of creamy, cheesy, pasta-y goodness. Pass the statins, please!

Turkey Tetrazinni
serves 8

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white wine
2-1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup half & half
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 pound cremini mushrooms, halved
1 pound cooked turkey breast, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound spaghetti, cooked al dente
1 cup almonds, toasted
2 ounces finely grated (using this kind of grater) Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium flame; whisk in flour. Cook, stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes, until raw flour aroma goes away. Whisk in wine, cook for 30 seconds, then whisk in stock & half & half, & salt. Bring back to simmer. Remove from heat and cover.

In large nonstick skillet, sauté onions in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium flame until just softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté, stirring often, until mushrooms are slightly browned, about 5-8 minutes.

Combine cream sauce, mushroom-onion mixture, turkey, spaghetti, & almonds in large bowl and stir well. Place in buttered 13×9-inch glass baking dish and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake in 400º oven for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Multigrain Loaf


As you can probably tell from looking through my recipes, I’m a big fan of soup. And on a chilly night, nothing complements a steaming bowl of lovely soup more than a full-flavored, crunchy/chewy, densely crumbed hunk of multigrain bread. Rustic and healthy and hearty, a bread like this screams for a little butter (like this: BUTTER!!!!!!!!). and the copious bran in this bread offsets the minor coronary implications of the yellow heaven, right? This is a sticky dough, and though you’ll be tempted to add more flour to make it come together quicker, don’t do it. Just keep kneading, and eventually it will make a nice, firm dough (this is why I like to use the standing mixer.

Multigrain Loaf
(makes two 1-1/2 pound boules)

1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup Fiber One cereal
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 cups boiling water
5 teaspoons yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110º to 115ºF)
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup flax seed meal
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour

In a medium metal or heat-safe glass bowl, combine corn meal, oats, Fiber One cereal, wheat germ, & boiling water. Stir well to combine. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally to mix ingredients and hasten cooling.

In a large bowl, whisk yeast & warm water until well combined. Whisk in honey, butter, & salt. Add lukewarm corn meal/oats/cereal mixture, then whole wheat flour, rye flour, & flax seed meal, stirring well after each addition. Add one cup of the all purpose flour, stirring well to combine. Add a second cup of the all purpose flour and stir well. At this point, the mixture should begin to come together into a dough. Turn it out onto a floured surface and add gradually add the third cup of flour, kneading the dough well as you so. Continue kneading the dough until it is smooth and somewhat elastic, about 10 minutes (dough will be fairly sticky). Pat the ball into an oblate spheroid and place in a large oiled bowl; cover and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

[Note: I prefer using a standing mixer for the kneading, and if you would like to do it this way, just use the mixing bowl to combine the yeast & warm water, continue with the above instructions, and don’t put the bowl into the mixer until you start adding the all purpose flour. At that point, connect the dough hook and continue adding the flour, using slow speed when you first add flour, and increasing the speed as the flour is incorporated. When you have added all of the flour, make sure the hook is gathering & kneading all of the dough, scraping the sides if necessary. Then, just leave it for the 10-minute knead, turning the dough out onto a floured surface and giving it a few quick hand kneads at the end.]

After dough has risen, knock it down, separate it into two pieces, and form into two boules. Place the boules on a lightly oiled cookie sheet, sprinkle with a little whole wheat flour, cover with a towel, and let rise for 1 hour.

Bake on cookie sheet in pre-heated 350º oven for 1 hour. Cool on rack.

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24-Hour Roast Pork


This recipe is adapted from one by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, published in his The River Cottage Meat Book. This book is one of my favorites in my food library, as it serves up equal portions of food philosophy and great recipes. A must for carnivores. Here’s a sample: “There is no doubt that Western society is very confused about death—both human and animal death. Human death as dramatic entertainment in movies and on television has, like animal-on-animal predation, never been more familiar. Yet the human act of killing animals for food, once familiar to most of society, has now become so shameful that those who condone it—by eating meat every day—are entirely protected from thinking about it.”

Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall admits in the recipe mine is adapted from that he too is adapting it from others who have recently made it popular among certain meat roasters. The idea is a simple, familiar technique for roasting meat: a short high-temperature roast, followed by a long, low-temperature roast. However, in this case, the long roast is VERY long. Like, a day. You’ll never have pork more tender, succulent, or delicious, I promise you.

24-Hour Roast Pork
serves 8

1 pork shoulder roast (about 6-8 pounds)
10 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
leaves from 10 rosemary sprigs, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

Preheat oven to 450º. Slash the fat cap on the shoulder every inch or so to a depth of a half an inch. Combine all rub ingredients. Place shoulder on rack in roasting pan, fat side down. Spread half of rub on non-fat side. Roast in oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 225º. Remove roast from oven, flip, and spread remaining rub on fat side. Return to oven. Roast until perfect, 20-24 hours. Let sit for 30 minutes before carving. A butter knife will do.

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Banana Flax Bread


When bananas get a little brown and soft, they may not be the most appetizing to eat out of hand, but they are very sweet and the banana flavor is very concentrated, so they work really well in banana bread. And if you have only a banana or two at a time that get that far, just throw them in the freezer and wait till you have 4 or 5 of them. Then it’s time to make banana bread. This recipe has a little flax meal added to the regular flour, which makes for a more intriguing crumb.

Banana Flax Bread
makes 2 loaves

1/2 pound butter
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 cups white flour
1 cup flax seed meal
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups mashed ripe banana
1 cup Greek-style yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/4 cup toasted flax seeds

Grease 2 loaf pans and preheat oven to 325º. Cream the butter & sugar, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Whisk flour, flax meal, baking soda, & salt; beat into butter/sugar/egg mixture a cup at a time. Stir in banana, yogurt, vanilla, & pecans. Pour into prepared loaf pans and top with flax seeds. Bake for 1 hour in upper third of oven.

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Black Soup


When you just gotta have umami, this is what you are craving. Rich and dark and mysterious and soothing, this soup is perfect for a chilly evening when you haven’t had the best day at work and you need a little escape.  Chewy wild rice, silky mushrooms, and tangy mustard greens will transport your palate to the exotic East.   The soy sauce I call for, Pearl River Bridge Mushroom Flavored Superior Dark Soy Sauce, is a fantastic soy sauce and is available at most Asian grocery stores. Super H in the DC area is a good place to look for it, or you can order it from Amazon via my link. You could use regular soy sauce, but I can’t guarantee that your gustatory escape will be as far flung. So live a little: Get the good stuff!

Black Soup
makes about a gallon and a half

4 tablespoons butter
8 ounces very thinly sliced leeks (white & light green parts only; about 3 cups)
8 ounces thinly sliced celery (about 1-1/2 cups)
8 ounces thinly sliced shitake mushrooms (about 4 cups)
3 quarts chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup mushroom soy sauce
2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled & thinly sliced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
the bottom 6 inches of a lemongrass stalk , quartered lengthwise & tied together
8 ounces wild rice (about 1-1/2 cups)
8 ounces diced cooked chicken (about 2 cups)
12 ounces mustard greens, stemmed
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

In large stockpot, melt butter over medium heat, add leeks & celery, and sauté, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to sauté, until mixture starts to stick to bottom of pot, about 5 minutes. Add stock, wine, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, lemongrass, & wild rice, raise heat to high, and bring to simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add chicken & mustard greens, bring back to simmer, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Stir in vinegar, taste for salt and serve.

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Tomato Soup with Corn & Ham


Well, summer is over, but yesterday was sunny and hot, and the farmer’s market had the tail end of the summer harvest, so I’ve got one more summer recipe to share, though this is one that is perfect for a cool night. Fresh tomatoes & fresh corn from the farmer’s market are the best way to do this, of course, but I’m sure you could fake it with some not-quite-so fresh ingredients if you really had a tomato soup jones going. This soup really puts a spotlight on the tomatoes, so try to get the most flavorful you can (cherry tomatoes may be your best bet out of season). This also freezes very nicely, so make the full recipe and save some for the freezer.

Tomato Soup with Corn & Ham
makes about 5 quarts

1/4 cup butter
3 cups diced shallots (about 12 ounces)
2 cups diced celery (about 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon diced red chili pepper
1 pound cooked ham, diced 1/2 inch
1 cup dry white or rose wine
5 cups fresh corn kernels (about 5 ears)
3 pounds tomatoes, 2 pounds pureed, 1 pound diced (about a quart)
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

In large stockpot or French oven, over medium-high heat, melt butter then sauté shallots, celery, & pepper until softened, about 6-7 minutes. Add ham and continue to sauté, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to high, add wine, and simmer 2-3 minutes. Add corn, tomatoes, stock, & liquid smoke and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for salt and serve.

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