Meet Pruttles: The Kansas Volga-German Version of Goetta

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I recently heard of a product called Pruttles from Dan Glier, popular in Central Kansas counties of Ellis, Rush, and Russell.      There’s not a huge amount of information available online about it, but it’s clear that it has been around for many generations in the Volga German population of Central Kansas.   Unlike the northern Germans from Oldenburg, Mecklenburg, and Westphalia/Hanover who settled Cincinnati and made goetta, the Volga Germans came from south Germany.

Volga Germans refers to the Germans who moved from Bavaria to Russia after Katherine the Great of Russia invited them to settle the uninhabited lands of her kingdom around the Black Sea and the Volga River in 1763. Katherine offered them freedom from taxes, a loan for the move, and exemption from military service.   Weary from the Seven Years War in Europe, this was a great deal for these Germans. So about 25,000 ethnic Bavarians migrated into Russia and for the next 100 plus years lived in relative isolation from the German homeland and their Russian neighbors. That was until Czar Alexander in 1875 revoked their exemption from military service.   This prompted the same group to migrate to Kansas where land was cheap.

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This isolation of the group probably made them very frugal, waste-not people, and thus they developed a similar ‘slaughter sausage’ to many other German groups that extended off cuts of meat with oatmeal or other grains.   They brought this dish to America with them and called it pruttles. In Dutch and some German dialects the verb prutteln means to simmer.   Pruttles, after being cooked and formed in pans, is sliced, and simmered in butter in a pan to a golden crispy slice, just like our goetta.

Although it shows up in Kansas cookbooks, and is eaten in both the Volga German areas of Kansas, and Nebraska, it’s not commercially manufactured on a large scale like Glier’s Meats and goetta.    There is one meat locker in Kensington, Kansas, that is famous for always having a supply of good pruttles.

The only difference between pruttles and goetta is that pruttles uses rolled oats (the whole oat, with the husk (bran) removed), while goetta uses steel cut oats (oats cut in slices with the husk (bran) intact.   There isn’t really a noticeable texture difference, but when you cook each, only goetta will occasionally ‘pop’ out of their husk, like mini-popcorn.  It’s like a natural temperature sensor that alarms you when the pan heat is too high for goetta.    Pruttles doesn’t have this, so it takes much more care to cook properly – thus the term simmer, or cook over low heat.

Pruttles are only spiced with salt and pepper, and the meat is always ground, but many Kansas cookbooks recognize when allspice is added, it’s called knipp, the northern German version of goetta.     It’s typically served with Karo or maple syrup over toast, and never with grape jelly or ketchup like Cincinnati goetta.  It seems that the goetta-like grain sausages who use a higher ratio of grain to meat use a sweet topping like syrup or jelly, while the ones like goetta that use a higher ration of meat to grain, use a savory meat topping like mustard or ketchup.

Wonder if Aunty Em had a pruttles recipe that Dorothy loved to eat for breakfast?

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5 thoughts on “Meet Pruttles: The Kansas Volga-German Version of Goetta

  1. When I was growing up in the 50s in Toledo OH my 100% German grandmother used to make a dish we called/pronounced “preddels”. It was a brown/tan, pasty, bland tasting concoction that could very well have been meat and oatmeal. She served it in a casserole which we spooned out and ate as a main course at dinner. I loved the stuff though not everyone in our family would eat it. Could it be another version of the same thing?
    I just read the Polly Campbell article in the Cincinnati Enquirer today but will check out your blog for other articles.

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  2. Search for prettles. It will bring up quite a few recipes. This is the north western Ohio version. We fried ours, not in slices, but just as a loose to get a touch of crisp, then ate on white bread as a sandwich. Allspice is the difference from goetta. I grew up with it as a dinner, not breakfast. Herm’s, in Napoleon, OH has 2 versions.

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