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Monday, November 12, 2007

Q and A -- Gritwurst

Normally, I save my Q and A for the Ask A Pastry Chef blog however, since this question has more to do with meat than pastry, I'll post it here.

A question from Ankeny, Iowa via Google search: How do you make Gritwurst?

Unless you are of German heritage and have a background of farm living, you're probably not familiar with Gritwurst. I am lucky to be of German heritage and to have family that grew up in the country where they used every part of an animal and learned to enjoy such delicacies. Despite some descriptions, Gritwurst (sometimes known as Gritzwurst or Grutzwurst) is not head cheese, though both are made with meat from the hog's head.

I will admit I have never tried Gritwurst though in my defense, it has been quite a number of years since I have been around when my family has made it. After re-reading the recipe I think it actually sounds kind of tasty. I would have to make alterations of course unless I can create a list of reasons to invest in a meat grinder.

Here is my Great Grandmother's recipe with some clarifications,

Gritwurst

9 to 10 pounds hog's head meat (pork shoulder or roast may be used instead of head)
4 to 5 pounds steel cut oats
1 heaping tablespoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons allspice
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
3 to 4 tablespoons salt

In a large cooking pot, cover meat with water and cook about 2 hours. Add some salt while cooking. Remove meat from the pot and strain stock. Cool slightly and remove meat from the bones and grind meat. Return the strained stock to a boil and add oats. Steam until soft and thick. Mix in spices and ground meat. Form the mixture into patties or place in a large cake pan or roaster and allow to cool overnight then cut into squares. Fry patties or squares in a bit of oil.


Gritwurst is often eaten for breakfast and according to my mother and aunties it's best when crispy.

I have a cookbook with recipes from the Depression Era which contains a recipe for Venison Gritwurst. It is basically the same with half of the pork replaced with venison. Additionally, marjoram, thyme, and allspice are added in place of the cinnamon, etc. This recipe says the they can be served with jelly, honey or pancake syrup, as a sandwich filling or side dish at any meal.

Patties or squares can be wrapped tightly and frozen before frying.

I called my mother before posting this and she excitedly asked if I was going to make Gritwurst! I may... and I may let her help.

Update: In an email from one of my aunties, "Thanks for sending me to your blog. Yup. I had not looked for a while so it was fun to catch up. I just have a couple of comments on the gritwurst. The last times I made it I had the butcher grind up the pork for me and justcooked it like ground beef for sloppy joes. It made the whole thing very simple and also made it easy to drain off much of the fat. When I cook itfor eating, I just throw it in a pan loose and brown it good. I, too, like it crispy but it is greasy. It is really important to use steelcut oats.They can be found in health food stores if nowhere else. Makes me think I need to whip up a batch."


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14 comments:

Rick said...

When I was growing up in the 50's and 60's, Gritwurst was something that was prepared during the Christmas holidays. I remember going to a health food store with my mom to buy the steel oats for it. After it was made, they would fry it on a skillet and serve it with lots of butter and ketsup on it. Thanks for posting the recipe for it. This does bring back pleasant memories.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the receipe for Gritwurst. My mother is in the nursing home and have been getting parts of her receipe from her a little at a time.

We are also German heritage and my grandmother and mother used to make this every time we butchered just before winter. It was a fun time as a family. It was many years ago that we last made Gritwurst, but my sister wanted to make some. So again thank you for the receipe.

Anonymous said...

We have been making gritwurst for years but never used a hogs head. The simple recipe is a tube of sausage in a large pot of water add 2 cubed potatoes when potatoes are soft and sausage cooked fill with oats until thick, stir in a couple tablespoons of sage. Pour this into a cake pan and refrigerate. Cut into thin slices and fry in crisco until crispy adding salt and pepper to taste.

Loren said...

Gritwurst (pronounced grrritwusht with a rolled "r" by my dad) is my very favorite. The squeamish can use country style pork ribs and roast instead of a pig's head. Having meat with bones is important for flavor, hence the ribs. My mom said that a beef heart was an important addition, though I don't use that myself. We don't use cinnamon, and we drizzle white Karo syrup on it before eating. It is beyond delicious. Toast and eggs make it a great meal, though I like just eating it with toast for supper. Crispy is best, though that is harder to do when you trim the meat so well. My immigrant ancestors would make this up and store it in a large Red Wing crock in the cool cellar, putting a plate on top to keep out mice :-)

Anonymous said...

i make gritwurst several times a year, boil a porkshoulder 5lbs or so, with a couple onions, salt, pepper and allspice. remove meat and onion when cooked 3-4 hrs. add 2lbs steel cut oats to liquid, about 15 cups,bring to boil then reduce heat cook 20 min, take meat and onion and chop in food processor until like a paste. add meat mixture to cooked oats,stir,let cool overnight and fry some up and enjoy

Anonymous said...

MY GRANDFATHER WAS FROM GERMANY. HE BECAME A BUTCHER BY PROFESSION, AFTER IMMIGRATING HERE WHEN HE WAS 17.
EVERY YEAR THE WHOLE FAMILY WOULD GET TOGETHER TO MAKE GRITWURST. THE MAIN DIFFERENCE IN OUR RECIPE WAS THAT GRANDPA ADDED RAISINS TO IT. WE MADE A HUGE POT OF IT, SO BIG THAT IT WAS STIRRED WITH A CANOE PADDLE. AFTER THE BATCH WAS VERY THICK, IT WAS STUFFED INTO CASINGS. THE SAUSAGES WERE THEN BOILED. AFTER COOLING, THEY WERE HUNG ON POLES AND HUNG IN THE SMOKEHOUSE FOR SMOKING.
TO EAT, THE SAUSAGES WERE CUT INTO RINGS, THEN FRIED IN BUTTER, AND WERE EATEN WITH EGGS...FOR BREAKFAST, OF COURSE.
AFTER GRANDPA DIED, MY MOM AND I MADE THE SAME MIXTURE, MINUS THE CASINGS AND SMOKING. WE ADDED BACON TO THE PORK, WHEN BOILING, THEN GROUND THEM TOGETHER. IF IT STILL DIDN'T TASTE SMOKEY ENOUGH, WE ADDED A LITTLE LIQUID SMOKE. THIS TYPE, WAS THEN FRIED WITH A LITTLE BUTTER.

burme1 said...

also make gritwurst. my family were german farmers who immigrated to illinois. i use pork shoulder boiled in large sttock pot with 4 qts water, couple chopped onion, salt pepper,and allspice. boil meat 1-2 hrs, remove meat onions, save liquid. meat onions get diced up in food processor to pastelike.add 2 lbs steel cut oats to liquid and boil 20-30 min stirring, add more salt pepper and allspice. add meat/onion mixture and stir. remove from heat and let set overnight in fridge. cut/form into square patties and fry in skillet with a little oil. crispy on the outside. then enjoy. it is delicious.

Anonymous said...

We also make it, but we use pork and beef. We also use cinnamon and nutmeg to season to taste. It's a long process but well worth the effort. Nothing better than waking up on a cold January day and eating gritwurst and toast for breakfast!! Iowa Falls, IA

Anonymous said...

In our German community, gritzwurst was made with beef. My mother's recipe is shorthand. I have to remember to do steps that she didn't write down - such as grind the meat. Also, we didn't add as much allspice as I see in these recipes. A friend of mine eats it with fruit jam on it, but we ate it for any meal and we fried it up crispy. I haven't made it, but now that I found my mother's recipe, I will attempt it this winter. I remember helping as a child on the farm. Lately, I have gone back to my hometown area to buy it from the butcher shop where they make it in one pound packages and freeze it for us Germans. Yes, I drive almost 100 miles just to get some. And since my mother has passed, I have to make some for my father from time to time so he can have some, too.

Anonymous said...

I am 32 years old and I absolutely love Gritwurst...I have been eating it since I was little! If you are ever in Red Wing, MN, Bev's Cafe has Gritwurst on their breakfast menu!

My mom makes Gritwurst every fall and it is a Christmas morning tradition to have Gritwurst for breakfast.

Thank you for sharing your recipe!

Anonymous said...

My husband is German and his mother used to make what I thought was pronounced gritvust or gritfust...as I was reading your blog you use pork and I am sure my mother in law used roast beef, I never got the recipe from her before she died. She would make it spread it in a pan and then I would cut it up in long squares roll it in flour and fry it...is this the same thing only different meat or do you know of another recipe??

Anonymous said...

I grew up in loving gritwurst that my grandparents would make. I always heard stories on how they boiled the rib meat and the pigs head.(German immigrants used all the pig). I am now 42 years old and my grandparents have passed and none of the recipes were passed on because they were all "in my Grandmother's head". I have since found a small butcher shop in Lake City, MN (Huettl's) that makes it and puts it in 1 lb packages. Now I have made this for my family and my wife and kids love it as well. I am going to try the recipe since this is close to what my uncles say were in the recipe, except no cinnamon. Can't wait to try it. Thank you for posting.

Anonymous said...

I grew up eating gritwurst--what a treat. It was made with a fatty pork shoulder roast boiled with lots of water. When that was fall apart ready, the meat taken out and the steel cut oats added. Then meat was grounded and added to the cooked oats and mixed thoroughly. We always added raisins when frying it. I too have stopped at the meat market in Lake City, MN and purchased theirs.

Anonymous said...

My grandparents were of German heritage. I grew up in Northeast Iowa in the 60's where my grandpa and grandma served us gristwurst (we also rolled the r's in grist)as a treat when my brothers and I would stay over night. Grandma would fry in in lard until crispy in the morning for breakfast and fry eggs and toast. When they passed, the recipe passed with them, however, my wife and I experimented from what my parents remember and we made it a few times in the early to mid eighties. We also used a hogs head and shoulder. I just made some today! Many of the recipes I have just read about are similar to what we have used, except no sweet involved just savory. We used BBQ'd pork loin today, 4 lbs, added some fat from a leftover pork roast including the leftover meat. We ground the meat and started a stock from the roast. When stock was boiling added 1 lb steel cut oats. When oats boiled for 10 minutes we added ground meat and kept on med. heat for 30 minutes stirring constantly. After 30 minutes we then added the spices, 1 teaspoon of the following: onion powder, garlic powder, allspice, nutmeg, and sage, salt and pepper to taste. We mixed it well and put in to loaf pans to cool over night. Can't wait to have some!