What Is Mett?

Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins
Marjoram, which is often included in mett.
Marjoram, which is often included in mett.

Many countries have traditional ways of eating meat raw, from the sashimi of Japan to the tartare of European descent. Lesser-known German preparations for raw meat involve mett, which is ground or minced pork. Though traditionally served on bread and seasoned with salt, pepper and maybe some caraway seeds and nutmeg, this raw meat also can be shoved into a sausage known as mettwurst or sculpted into a cartoon hedgehog and served as mettigel.

Mett is traditionally served on fresh bread.
Mett is traditionally served on fresh bread.

It is unclear for how many generations the German people have consumed raw pork in these ways — a process also known as hackepeter in the northern part of the country. It has evolved into the 21st century, however, to the point at which the government has set up a Hackfleischverordnung. This is a minced meat regulatory body that regulates and oversees the freshness and safety of mett and other foods consumed without cooking. According to several published sources, these preparations are expected to be consumed on the same day as the pig's death. This is particularly due to a pig's high fat content being especially susceptible to bacterial outbreaks.

In Mett, after the pork meat is grounded, it's seasoned with salt and pepper.
In Mett, after the pork meat is grounded, it's seasoned with salt and pepper.

The traditional recipe and presentation for mett is fairly straightforward. After the pork is ground or minced, it is salted, peppered and maybe seasoned with just a few other ingredients like nutmeg, marjoram, caraway seeds and onion powder. Once the ingredients are blended by hand through the pork, it is placed on a plate. Some finish it off by creating a depression at the top of the meat mound and breaking an egg into it.

The meat is served with simple accompaniments. Side plates might contain diced onions, capers or mustard. Another plate or basket might contain fresh bread or rolls, onto which the mett is spread. The meat is followed by the toppings.

Mett is not always served this way, though. Some cure the meat with the traditional seasonings, and then squeeze it into sausages that also are eaten raw, called mettwurst. Other German dishes that feature raw meat being eaten with bread are the teewurst and teewurst-rugenwalder varieties, which also are eated on bread or crackers, and combine raw ground pork and ground beef. These latter spreads, however, add more distinctive ingredients, like ginger, cardamom and paprika as well as a few days of controlled cold smoking and curing. Mett appears to be the only pork dish that is expected to be eaten right after the pig has been butchered.

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    • Marjoram, which is often included in mett.
      Marjoram, which is often included in mett.
    • Mett is traditionally served on fresh bread.
      Mett is traditionally served on fresh bread.
    • In Mett, after the pork meat is grounded, it's seasoned with salt and pepper.
      In Mett, after the pork meat is grounded, it's seasoned with salt and pepper.