Nothing like the smell of gritzwurst on the weekend...

Gritzwurst. It's what's for breakfast.

If you were lucky enough to grow up in a household with a bit of German farm ancestry, you might know what I'm talking about. If not, you'll probably think I'm pulling something over on you for April Fool's Day. But, it's all true. I promise.

Gritzwurst (or gritwurst, grutzwurst, or gritswurst, it seems) is made from pork and oatmeal. The pork (originally the meat from a pig's head, but these days something more akin to pork shoulder) is cooked, and then stewed in a great deal of water until it's falling apart and tender. Then it is mashed (or ground) and set aside. The oatmeal (my family uses rolled oats, but traditionally it's steel-cut oats) is cooked in the water left from cooking the pork -- and then the whole mess is mixed together and cooled. It's shaped into patties, or thrown free-form on a griddle to be fried into crispy goodness.

People in my family have been making gritzwurst for a very long time. We loved to fry it up on a cold winter morning and eat it with a liberal dose of maple syrup poured over the top.

Don't ask me how Peef got away with being married to me for almost ten years without tasting gritzwurst. But, the fact is, he got his very first taste of this delicacy this weekend at my aunt & uncle's house. I think he was a bit skeptical about it at first. But, you could see his tune changing as he caught his first whiff of the gritzwurst browning on the grill. The smell really is intoxicating (probably a lot like pork breakfast sausage, when it all comes down). And it's even better when mingled with the suggestion of maple. By the time he took his first bite, he was sold.

Anyhow, I'm glad that he's a fan. I'm on a kick lately with the whole idea of preserving history (keeping the "old foods" alive). Serious cooking is an art form. And it's not something that comes without practice and dedication. It's romantic to me to think about the ways in which recipes are passed along, from generation to generation. And I want to be part of that. So, I've been thinking that I need to learn the art of gritzwurst-making so that I can pass it along. And having Paul on board will make a difference.

If only it had a better name...


Anonymous said...

Maple syrup?

My family also has been making grutzwurst for generations. We always fry in butter till crispy then eat spread on fresh buttered bread. Delish!

Anonymous said...

I've just started looking for a recipe for gritswurst and came across this blog and comment. Does anyone actually have a recipe for gritswurst? I remember eating it as a child, and I think it had beef in it, rather than pork. I'd love to try making it.


Lo said...

Both my grandmother and my aunt have been making gritzwurst (sans recipe) for years. So, my goal is to get a lesson from one of them and put together a family recipe. We'll be sure to share on this blog (OR the Burp! blog) as soon as we've figured it out.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I can hardly wait.

Hinty said...

We just made the annual batch on Sunday. It's beef liver, pork shoulder, onions... and not oatmeal, but GRITS! (That's why they call it gritswurst, I figure)... And we don't fry it in patties, we grind it into a sausage making machine (by hand of course)... then we bake the rings till the casings are crisp. Just finished a piece for breakfast (catsup, lots of pepper, a fried egg on the side). Prosit!

Anonymous said...

Oh my. I just asked grandma how to make this. I LOVE IT! She said that you just cook a pork roast, mash it or grind it and than cook up oatmeal and squash together. Grandma is considering making a batch soon. `Kero

lisa said...

my grandfather made it like sausage also. i havent had it since i was a child, but i remember he cooked it whole in the sausage casing and when you cut into it the meat fell out of it with what i thought was barley. i miss it.......

Anonymous said...

There seem to be a lot of different recipes - the one I finally found (it was my mother's) was to boil pork hocks (I used fatty pork chops), stewing beef, an onion and garlic til the meat was shredding-tender, take out the meat and shred it while buckwheat was boiled in the broth until all the broth was absorbed. The shredded meat went back in, the mixture was put in containers and frozen. To serve, the mixture was fried in oil til the meat got a bit crispy - about 20 minutes.

Served with ketchup and rye bread. It was just like my mother used to make.

Anonymous said...

We fry it up, lay it on buttered bread with home pressed sorgum malasses. Very good and it sticks with you for a while.

Angela Warren-Osborn said...

West Burlington, Iowa So excited to have this taste once again! It has been at least 30yrs since I have had any. My grandparents were both German and we grew up with this on cold winter mornings. My brother and I want to make it, but just like alot of you, we have no recipe. I have seen some on here, but the recipes call for allspice??? which throws me alittle. But, I love the pork shoulder idea, instead of using the traditional pig head. We fried it with oatmeal, and then served on buttered bread. Never have heard of serving with maple syrup, but just eager to make some of this, and enjoy once again!

AllenD said...

As a child I ate gritswurst made without a recipe. I made my own recipe: Enough water to go with 7 cups of rolled oats.(chicken stock is better). Add the spices you like to the water plus msg and salt. Cook 1 lb ground pork and 1 lb ground beef in the liquid until done. Break meat into smalll pieces. Add 7 cuips of old fashioned rolled oats. Place in breadpans. Cool, slice, separately wrap and freeze. Heat in frying pan until browned. Serve. The next time I will use less liquid and oatmeal. Perthaps I will try steel cut oats.

Allen D said...

Correction on my recipe. 2 quarts water or chicken stock and 6 cups of quick rolled oats. I add bayleaves to the water and flavor with msg, salt, pepper and allspice. Cloves if you like. Next time I will use less liquid and oats and will saute onions and garlic to add when the meat is cooked in the liquid.

In western Ohio, they called it: "gritzelwurst"

Anonymous said...

My mother and father made homemade sausage whenever a pig or steer was butchered. We had several varieties to choose from. Gritzwurst was always my favorite. It was made in either link form or it was canned in mason jars for use over the winter. (Back then we did not have a freezer.) It was made by boiling the pigs head with spices and buckwheat grouts. This mixture was then ground and turned into sausage. It was served fried and the aroma was to die for!!!

Rick Obst said...

Our family recipe for gritz uses pork, beef, steel-cut oats, and barley. It is always a favorite for breakfast. My Dad has a "coupon" with no expiration date for gritz patties whenever my wife makes a big batch.

These links may be of interest to those wanting a recipe or to learn more:




Anonymous said...

Just made some with me da this last Friday. His recipe is 3 pounds of pork sausage,41/2-5 cups of steel cut oats, 1T of allspice, onion powder, salt & pepper and 10 cups of water. Mix all the ingredients together and bake and stir at 350 degrees for about 2 hours.

Tommy said...

My Uncle Otto made gritswurst when I was a kid in St Joseph, Mich.
I could have eaten it morning noon andnight!
Unfortunately we had a very limited supply.
I have no idea how it was made (I was too small to think about that)
Since moving to ??California, I have ask at least 40 or50 german butchers and noe have ever heard of it.
The thought of it brings back very warm memories.

Anonymous said...

We like to drizzle molasses on a piece of toast and then place a softly fried 3/4" thick patty of gritswurst followed by fried onions and a drizzling of ketchup, all topped with a fried egg.

Anonymous said...

Depending on what part of Germany your ancestors came from Gritzwurst was either Gritzwurst or Goetta. Goetta is the more common name Variation exist but basically it is Steel cut oats with beef, pork and onions. The German heritage in Cincinnati celebrate the culinary delights each fall and a part of the Oktoberfest celebration is a Goetta challenge. One company that I know of make a commercial offering and that is Gliers. Bing it.

Cindy said...

I've just finished making a big batch of Gritzwurst! My family came over from Germany in the mid 1800's and every generation since has carried the tradition of making this special breakfast sausage.
To make it: boil a pork shoulder or Boston Butt and reserve the water used to cook it in. Grind the meat in a meat grinder or food processor. Make an equal amount of oatmeal with the broth as you have ground pork. Season with salt, pepper and a lot of sage. Pour in a 13x9 in. pan and refrigerate until set. Cut in 6 to 8 pieces, package and freeze until ready to cook. Thaw Gritzwurst, slice and fry in veg. oil until crispy.

Anonymous said...

In the Dakotas, it is generally made with buckwheat "Gritz" which is cracked buckwhat though you can use grits or any cereal grain for the thickening. It's original intention was to use up everything but the squeal. To see how it's actually made look up "making scrapple" on youtube and you will see the Pennsylvania Dutch who are actually German making what we call gritzwurst and they call scrapple or ponhaus.

Anonymous said...

Here's our Recipe from Southern Illinois:


Fresh Pork Meat Fresh Jowls and/or Fresh Side Pork, or
Fresh Pork Shoulder Roart and Fresh Side Pork, or
Fresh boneless loin roast.
Do not use smoked meat.
Meat should contain enough fat to provide adequate broth for oat mixture. If leaner meats are used, some fat may need to be added.
Steel Cut Oats

Course ground pepper and Course salt (canning salt) to taste.

(Use a mixture of an equal amount of dry, uncooked steel cut oats and the same amount of cooked, ground pork. For example, use one quart of ground, cooked meat to one quart dry steel cut oats.)

Cut up pork in 3" x 3" or 4" x 4" chunks for boiling; cut jowls in 1/2 or in quarters. Boil pork in plenty of water for at least 1 to 1-1/2 hours until meat is tender and well done. Remove meat from water/broth mixture, reserving all of the broth mixture. Allow to cool some; then cut up as to how you are grinding. Grind cooked pork meat thoroughly in meat grinder or food processor. Cover ground meat with towel to keep warm and do not allow meat to get cold.

Combine steel cut oats with some of the reserved pork broth, and bring to boil; then allow oats to simmer with a slow bubble boil and cook for at least 45 minutes until done. Add broth mixture while cooking as more moisture will be needed frequently, as oats cook. Stir oats as needed to avoid sticking and burning. During final cooking, stir almost continuously. Oats are done when mixture puffs up. Allow moisture to cook off as oats become done, until the moisture on the top of the oats has a glossy or pasty glue like look (Like gravy).

Allow oats to steam and cool for 10 to 15 minutes, but where they are still very hot. (Still too hot to touch.) Spread ground meat on bottom of large roaster. Pour oats over and mix thoroughly. Continue mixing and stirring until all meat and oats are very well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste, by sprinkling over top of mixture and stirring and blending. Use canning salt sparingly, as to taste. Place finished Gritswurst in containers, for cooling and freezing. This recipe will make about 3 and 1/2 quarts. To serve: Sausage should be fried in skillet until oats are slightly crisp to taste. Serve with bread and apple butter.

Recipe learned by Earl Schnoeker (Sharon's Dad) as a boy from his Grandpa Sickmeyer
at Welge, Illinois farm around 1930. Near Steeleville.
Edited by Joe Dearing, son-in-law – now in New Mexico.

Anonymous said...

My mom also added dark raisins to the mixture and we used white karo syrup poured on top of the fried, broken up, semi crispy dish.
Loved it.
Many years latter we found a butcher shop that made it, sold it by the pound. It came frozen. It always looked like a white block of cement when you unwrapped it. Initially their gritwust tasted good, it had more pepper in it than we were used to. Initially it was a good, but it had an after taste that was unpleasant and hard to get rid of.
Moms was better.

Anonymous said...

My mom also added dark raisins to the mixture and we used white karo syrup poured on top of the fried, broken up, semi crispy dish.
Loved it.
Many years latter we found a butcher shop that made it, sold it by the pound. It came frozen. It always looked like a white block of cement when you unwrapped it. Theirs had more pepper in it than we were used to. Initially it was a good, but it had an after taste that was unpleasant and hard to get rid of.
Moms was better.

Anonymous said...

My daughter just sent me the link to this site because we have been making this sausage for years.It was handed down from my german grandparents.We always called it Gritza. Made the same way, fried till crispy and I love it on buttered bread.

Anonymous said...

Our family recipe had cinnamon in it pearl barley or steel rolled oats You are so right about the aroma My sisters still make some every once in a while , not often enough (HINT HINT)

John W. Doberstein said...

Here is my Mother's version (as refined by my Son & I to exacting seasoning measurements - my Mom said "season to taste).
Seasoning Version #4

1.5 lb * Buckwheat groats (whole, raw)
1.5 pieces Pork liver (or Calf liver if you can’t find Pork)
9-10 lb Fresh Picnic (upper front shoulder) or Fresh Boston Butt
2 Large onions (sliced)
4-5 Allspice kernels
2 Tbsp Salt (for cooking butts)
1 Tsp Salt (for cooking liver)
5 Tsp Salt (for mixing)
10 Tbsp Ground allspice
5 Tbsp Cinnamon
4 Tsp, Black pepper

Packaging Option #1:
About 10-12 Small aluminum bread loaf pans, or 8-10 large
As needed Plastic wrap
As needed Freezer wrap

Packaging Option #2:
About 10-12 Small plastic storage containers
As needed Plastic sealer wrap
Saw/cut butts into at least four pieces, cover with water; boil with onion, allspice kernels, and salt till cooked (about 2-3 hours). Let cool and trim meat off bones. Save the broth.
Boil liver with salt until cooked (about 30 minutes). Let cool and cut into medium size pieces. Discard this broth!
Grind meat into large mixing pan (mixing pieces of fat, pork, and liver proportionally).
Strain the warm broth and add enough to cover the groats and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring continuously. While stirring, add remaining broth as needed to form a medium, relatively runny consistency (use water if there isn't enough broth). Also while stirring, add the ground allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, and salt to taste.
Add groats to meat in a large, shallow pan. Mix well by hand. Add broth or water if the mix seems too dry. Sample mix and adjust seasonings to taste.
Packaging Option #1: Line loaf pans with enough plastic wrap so that the loaf can be sealed, fill loaf pans level with mixture, seal them and let sit until cool; then wrap in freezer wrap and freeze what you don’t use immediately.
Packaging Option #2: Fill plastic storage containers level with mixture, seal them with the lids and place in freezer. Once frozen solid, run containers under hot, running water just long enough to loosen the grip, remove the solid frozen loaf, and seal in FoodSaver wrap.
* We buy the whole, raw buckwheat groats from Whole Foods & then use a roller mill to just crack the kernels. The kind Mom used was from a market in St. Joseph, and was from Morleys New Troy Mills, New Troy, MI. and was already milled.

sarah baue said...

West end tavern in frohna,missouri may still make and sell it in the fall