Developed by German immigrants as a way to get more servings out of inexpensive cuts of meat, goetta is traditionally prepared from pinhead oats and ground pork, beef or a combination, cooked slowly in broth. The resulting thick mixture is typically packed into loaf pans, refrigerated until firm, then sliced and pan-fried. The low, moist heat supplied by a slow cooker like a Crock-Pot makes it a simple, low-maintenance way to prepare the oats and meat for goetta without requiring constant stirring or attention.
Measure the pinhead oats into the slow cooker. Add beef or pork broth, using approximately 3 parts of broth for every 1 part oats. Stir to combine.
Adjust the slow cooker's temperature to high. Put the lid securely in place and cook until the mixture has thickened and the oats are tender but not mushy, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
Place the ground meats in a large mixing bowl, using about 2 total pounds for every 6 cups of broth used. Combine the meats well with your hands.
Empty the ground meat into the slow cooker. Stir to combine the oats, broth and meat.
Season the goetta with your choice of herbs and spices. Traditional seasonings include salt, pepper, thyme, sage, bay leaves, onions, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, sage and rosemary. Mix well.
Replace the slow cooker's lid. Turn the heat to low and cook until the goetta is thick enough to be shaped with your hands, approximately 3 hours.
Let the goetta cool slightly. Divide evenly between loaf pans lined with waxed paper. Smooth and press down on the top of each loaf of goetta with the back of a large spoon.
Cover each loaf pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm.
Remove the goetta by turning the loaf pan upside down on a cutting board. Cut into slices 1/2 inch thick.
Heat oil, butter or a combination of both in a skillet. Fry the goetta on both sides until golden brown. Serve for breakfast accompanied by maple syrup, ketchup or jelly, if desired.
Substitute steel-cut oats if pinhead oats aren't available.
Although a combination of ground beef and pork is traditional, goetta can be made with all one or the other, if preferred.
If the oat and meat mixture is still too thin after several hours, remove the slow cooker's lid and continue to cook, stirring, until it reaches the right consistency.
Once the goetta mixture is prepared and cool enough to handle, you can mold it into patties or sausage shapes and refrigerate. Once firm, fry the goetta and serve on buns, if desired.
Be careful not to under- or over-fill the slow cooker. The goetta mixture may not cook properly if the slow cooker insert is less than half full, or more than 3/4 full. Use another size of slow cooker or prepare the goetta in batches.
Avoid removing the slow cooker's lid too often while the goetta is cooking. You may increase the cooking time by as much as 30 minutes if you remove the lid, allowing the accumulated steam to escape.