A Mettigel is a German dish that’s shaped like an adorable hedgehog, Tupperware made of ground pork. Though it’s a staple of German breakfast, Mettigel can be enjoyed as a snack at anytime of day.
The meat is seasoned with salt, pepper and maybe some caraway seeds and nutmeg and served on bread or rolls — and in a variety of shapes, from the traditional molded into a mound to a more creative hedgehog-shaped version. It’s a popular dish for parties and can be found in many German bars.
In the north, a classic Mettigel is eaten for breakfast with bread and mustard or as a lunchtime snack with fried popatoes and a fried egg. In the Rheinland, the meat is eaten with a dark double roll called a Roggelchen, which has a rich crust.
Some parts of Germany also serve the meat in a sausage known as mettwurst. It’s usually smeared on the top of a bun or bread roll, topped with onions and mustard and sometimes even served with an egg.
Another classic way of eating mett is in a soup, which is often called pig’s blood soup. It’s a traditional dish in many northern towns, where it’s served on the day of the slaughtering.
Depending on where the soup is made, the blood is either used raw or cooked in vinegar. The result is a thick, black liquid that tastes very similar to teewurst and can be a bit spicy.
It’s often accompanied by a basket of side plates containing simple accompaniments, such as diced onions or capers. Drinks tend to be beer, preferably bitter, because it contrasts well with the richness of the dish.
A Mettigel is also an important part of the smorgasbord at many Oktoberfests. In addition to the traditional sides, a Mettigel also features a special type of sausage called a Weisswurst, which is a soft white sausage with a hint of onion.
According to Mettigel fanatic Naesert, the key to making a good one is keeping it cool from the time it’s ground all the way to the moment it’s eaten. He says the best way to ensure this is by putting it in a cooler and letting it sit out for a few hours before you eat it.
The first step is to purchase your Mett from a butcher. The meat can be pre-packaged, cooled and then refrigerated, or it can be slaughtered fresh and purchased at the butcher’s counter. The butcher can also make custom cuts, or grind it for you on the spot if you’re in a rush.
Once the meat has been ground, it’s salted, peppered and seasoned with a mix of other spices, including nutmeg, marjoram, caraway seeds and onions powder. It’s then served on fresh bread, or a roll, with a small side plate or basket containing the toppings.
Some restaurants and pubs offer the Mettigel in a bowl, called a “puppen,” where it’s eaten with fried potato wedges and a boiled egg. It’s a simple, easy-to-prepare meal that can be enjoyed anytime of the day.