Meat Cheese, the German Square Hotdog
Fleischkäse or Meat Cheese in German is a common snack food here in Baden, perhaps everywhere in Germany. I have avoided it thus far because it looks a little too much like spam. I have however finally succumbed to it and had my first this past weekend. Read the story of a house raising, meat cheese and spam.
What the heck is Fleischkäse?
Fleischkäse is sold as slices from large loafs on the street corners from butchers. It is kind of wobbly and uniform meat-pink in color. There is even a few places that sell a version call Pizza Fleischkäse that is even more appetizing with pockets of cheese that ooze out of the pink flesh. As near as I learned, it is the leftover meat scrapings of the day blended with spices and baked as a loaf. It is also a lot like an American hotdog in that respect. In some why also imagine a block of spam the size of a loaf of bread.
Suffice to say despite several comments to the contrary on other posts, I had not yet tried a piece of Fleischkäse. It just seemed like one of those cultural things that I didn’t need to try. Apparently it is a variant of Leberkäse without liver. Liverwurst probably in the US is also related. Again not making me want to eat it more. Although the article seems to talk about it being an actual wurst, so maybe my “scrapings” idea isn’t right.
Enter The Square Hotdog
So this past weekend I went to a house raising for a friend of mine. Before you start singing too much Weird Al Amish Paradise, this is apparently a normal thing here in Germany. A house once it has its roof finished gets a party. Although I missed this part (by like 30 seconds, argh up hill biking) there is apparently one of the wandering carpenters that comes and blesses the house by slamming a bottle of champagne at it.
Beyond that imagine a normal style barbeque party just in the shell of a house. There are brick walls, a floor, a roof and not much more. They had prepared a group of picnic tables and as appropriate for any German get together crates of beer. It was a great time (thanks Patrick for the invite). They also had as main food Fleischkäse. These, Patrick assured me, were the German equivalent of hotdogs just square. At least from the atmosphere, the pile of rolls next to them and bottles of ketchup and mustard around, that fit.
How does it taste?
So yeah, I picked up a slab of wobbly meat, stuffed it in a roll and squeezed some mustard on in. One bite and really seriously, it tastes like hotdog, just square. So as the shape of a hamburger in a square roll, but the taste and texture of the venerable American favorite. It was good enough that I had two.
The differences are there too. The Germans eat mostly pork, so nope these aren’t kosher. And while I always think of them as being made from butcher leftovers, they are likely far higher quality meat than a hotdog might be. See above Wiki article that it might be normal sausage meat and thus even better than scrapings. In addition, since you know the butcher and the things are not packages in a faraway place and shipped frozen to you, they are probably again a step better. It is still cheap, so I can guess that it isn’t the best cuts, but still neat.
A Last Word on Spam
If you need to envision anything in the American store that is close to Fleischkäse in consistency, you can think of SPAM. The famous pork potted meat that was featured in the Monty Python sketch and from there become the name for the email we would rather not eat (err receive). I had to use this description in reverse today. Apparently SPAM does not exist in Germany in a way that a colleague of mine knew. He knew only of unwanted email. So in my scientific study of 1 person, I have come to the conclusion that SPAM is unknown here. Perhaps Fleischkäse ran it out of town.
While SPAM and Fleischkäse have some things in common, I would not confuse them. There seems to be far less salt (from my last remembered slab of SPAM) in Fleischkäse and again higher quality ingredients. It has also been cooked and served warm. While I will not go back to the US looking to eat potted meat, I may add Fleischkäse to my lunch rotation. Not sure about the oozing Pizza Fleischkäse though.
So ye German travelers and expats, have you tried the Meat Cheese?
February 15, 2015 @ 2:08 pm
I think the Germans do have something like Spam, they just don’t call it Spam. I have found “Opas Weißer” in South Germany, which looks quite similar to Spam. It contains mostly pork boiled in its own juice, a nitrite salting mix, spices, rinds of bacon and onions. The Germans put it canning jars, though.
November 25, 2013 @ 7:30 pm
Yup, had it, love it, trying to perfect it at home. My husband is Austrian, he took me to the Tirol to meet his family before we got married. We live in Canada and are going to be opening a little European food booth at a local farmers market and one of the things I want to offer is Fleischkäse including the one with the little lumps of swiss cheese, soooo good!! shame you didn’t try it with the oozy cheeselololol! We found a deli in Scarborough that offers Fleischkäse, the right flavour and texture they just don’t have the wonderful Estragon mustard so readily available in Austria, not so much here unfortunately, oh well, we make do with Thomy.
December 2, 2013 @ 10:52 pm
Wow that is an ambitious plan. I have always thought of Fleishkaese as the leftovers of some other butchery process smacked together and sold. So much like a hot dog and yet higher quality.
December 2, 2012 @ 7:11 pm
We tried some at Disneyworld recently, in Epcot’s German restaurant, and I am glad I didn’t skip it lying there next to the Sauerbraten. It was amazing. I agree with your correlation to a hot dog, with one exception–we’re talking the best dog you’ve ever had at an American baseball game, etc. It is not on par with Oscar Mayer’s cold fat-filled floppy meat dog. If you’ve ever been to a ball game and wolfed down what you found to be an exceptional frank (remember, they came from Frankfurters, right?), made with quality meat and an acceptably small amount of fat, you’ve experienced what Leberkase or Fleischkase is. Basically Fleischkase is the equivalent to the American bologna, and Fleischwurst is the equivalent to the American hotdog or Frankfurter. But they don’t taste like bologna. They are nothing like SPAM, though. Spam is much more like ham, thus its name. And it’s saltier and fattier and much less healthy. I didn’t see a high percentage of fat in fleischkase recipes, other than a little bacon. It also is not akin to America’s meatloaf, although that’s what the chef called it–meatloaf is Hackbraten, and is very much more recognizable to its hamburger roots and consistency, as it’s not blended like a good dog or Fleischkase. I guess if I had to explain it to anyone, I’d say it’s a frankfurter loaf.
June 21, 2011 @ 1:35 pm
Best way of having Fleischkäse is to got to the butcher and get the “Brät” (the ready-to-bake meat paste). Sweep the Brät as thin layer (about 1 inch) on a baking tray and put it in the oven. This way you will get an improved paste/crust ratio.
June 22, 2011 @ 7:31 pm
Ha cool idea. I didn’t realize that you can buy the paste and cook it yourself. So you can make a plate of “only ends” like that.
May 28, 2011 @ 10:45 am
Yeah, Spam is pretty much unheard of in Western Europe (well, maybe it is in Britain, they eat weird things over there). I can’t talk for Eastern Europe.
Strangely and while I find 90% of American food disgusting, I tried Spam and it was not as bad as I thought. Oh, it was bad, but no worse than many other things in the US food-wise. 🙂
May 30, 2011 @ 3:00 am
I have had German friends swear they have seen it in Germany, but I wonder heavily if it just came from a nearby army base somehow. I dont really think about looking it, so haven’t noticed it in the stores. I like your description “bad, but on par with other US foods”.
May 12, 2011 @ 4:09 pm
Stumbled on this post via Sabrina’s ‘like’ on fb. Gosh, who knew such a lengthy correspondence could arise about hotdogs and their shape 🙂
Very entertaining though!
May 13, 2011 @ 9:27 pm
Welcome. 🙂 Fleischkäse isn’t hotdog, but that is the closest thing an American might know. Thanks for coming by.
May 6, 2011 @ 4:12 pm
Is it wrong to say I kinda miss hotdogs? The only ones we can find here are the wurst (which are just sliced hotdogs) on PIZZA! Wtf, Italy.
I think the pizza Fleischkase sounds kinda good! Anyway, I’m glad that you have discovered that it’s more quality than spam.
House raising sounds fun, I like bottles of champagne, although I think smashing them against a house is a bit wasteful! 😉
May 8, 2011 @ 5:43 pm
Nope no shame in that. I saw that in Italy. With french fries and hotdog bits on pizza. It looked somehow really awful. I wonder though, since what I saw was labeled as Wurstel in German it is somehow the reverse of how Germans make things Bolognese with meat sauce. There is a dish there that is potatoes bolognese, sliced fried potatoes with a meat sauce. It is pretty decent, but certainly not from Bologna.
I will have to try the pizza Fleschkäse the next time I see it. The one place I know had it, just closed, so I’ll have to look around. I’m sure they didn’t use a really expensive bottle of champagne.
May 6, 2011 @ 4:11 pm
You’re much braver than I am. Haven’t tried it and although I try to embrace a lot of things in Germany, Fleischkäse won’t be one of them. My German fiance hasn’t heard of SPAM either and looked revolted when I explained to him what it was.
May 8, 2011 @ 5:38 pm
I thought the same thing. It really isn’t much different than a hotdog, just in a bigger slice and square. Pretty good on a roll. I don’t know how much salt goes into Fleischkäse, but Spam is awful in that respect. I may try to fry some fleischkäse just to see what it is like.
May 5, 2011 @ 2:10 am
We did try it, but having some personal prejudices against processed meats, I wasn’t as into it as my four year old. She loved it, along with all German meat products. We regularly ordered leberkase for her as well, glad to see that there was something almost as cheap and easy as “pommes.”
May 8, 2011 @ 5:37 pm
I imagine her desire for it is similar to me when I was a kid only ever eating hotdogs. Glad to see from your blog that you guys are back this side of the ocean.
December 2, 2012 @ 7:23 pm
I think it’s different if you buy it “processed” vs. making it fresh like they do in good restaurants, or you can at home. And it’s mostly meat and spices, pumped up with some steam from water and ice. I’ve seen recipes with bacon to meat ratios between 1:2 all the way down to 1:15 (one ounce of bacon per pound of meat). 4:1 is probably a good ratio, but YMMV. Note the low ranking of the one with the high fat ratio.
Also, this addresses the bread crust issue:
May 4, 2011 @ 7:40 pm
I ate them day and night as a student in Germany. It was one of the few sources of protein. They are great with sweet mustard and I always found it tasted like warm baloney.
May 4, 2011 @ 10:01 pm
Oh. so it is like Ramen? Although not so much protein in Ramen, nor is it good with mustard. So maybe not so much in common. Actually I try to not think of baloney when I eat Fleischkäse. That is one taste I have no interest in ever again. Fried Baloney was a thing they made us eat as a kid. ugh.
May 4, 2011 @ 9:15 am
Glad you enjoyed your first Fleischkäse!
I can’t stand it…
In our region in Northern Germany it is just not that popular – I remember when I first saw it in the early 70s when I was a kid, being sent to a convalescent home at Norderney (a small island in the North Sea) where I was forced to eat very odd food to gain weight and a more stabile constitution after a pneumonia…
They tried to convince me that Fleischkäse was a special treat from Bavaria – as many of the other kids were from Southern Germany and they wanted to make them feel more at home.
And I hated it.
Needless to say that it took me a couple of years to get used to the texture and the taste. And we still do have a love-hate relationship.
I have to go to many house raisings… but I have never been to one or any other party where they served Fleischkäse.
There are other specialties in my region – and that is something I am really grateful for *lol*…
May 4, 2011 @ 9:58 pm
This house raising was from an American friend of mine and his German wife. And we live pretty freaking far into the South of Germany, so perhaps it is normal or perhaps it is just his nod to the American grill party.
I associate the north with more Frikadele and Roulade than Wurst actually. Maybe that is part of it.
May 4, 2011 @ 8:06 am
The hubby can’t get enough of Fleischkäse. They sell it in almost every beer garden here in Berlin smothered in mustard. (not that there are that many)
Even Rogacki, a famous Berlin deli and fishmarkt, has its own Fleischkäse!
I liked it though. once. 🙂
May 4, 2011 @ 9:49 pm
Not that many beer gardens in Berlin? That sounds unpleasant somehow.
Although Rogacki sounds cool. Is the Fischmarkt like a deli selling fish or more like an open air shouting/throwing fish place? Where is it?
May 4, 2011 @ 8:04 am
Two ways of serving here in Bavaria, where we call it “Leberkäse” (but there is neither “Leber” nor “Käse” in ours, and I pretty sure it’s not related to “Liverwurst,” either):
• thick slices, served warm on a crusty roll (like in your graphic) with your choice of sweet or spicy mustard (I go with spicy)
• thin slices, served chilled on a crusty roll, usually with thinly-sliced pickled cucumber and lettuce on it as well
I have often wondered about the crusty parts of the “loaf” of meat — are they also just meat, baked to crispiness, or is there a bread-like coating on there? Either way, the butcher near my old office would discount a Leberkäse sandwich for me if all she had left were the ends of the loaf. Tasted just fine to me!
May 4, 2011 @ 9:46 pm
You’re right. I only made the Liverwurst connection due to the name. I never ate it even in the US, so don’t know.
I definitely only see it warm in thick slices here. They make the cold sandwiches with salami. As near as I can see in the butcher’s windows, yeah the crusty outside is just like the crust of bread. Same material just cooked crispy. I think the discount is that most people like the soft center and wouldn’t like the crunchy.
BTW the Wikipedia article on Fleischkäse mentioned that idea of Brät as being the sausage ready meat. So back to the idea of Bratwurst, it seems far more likely a description of the meat than the cooking.
May 4, 2011 @ 4:14 am
I’ll be honest Andy. Before I even got to that last paragraph, I was thinking that Fleischkäse reminded me of Spam. That was going to be my comment on this but seems you addressed what I was already thinking when you wrote this. As for the square hot dog, would have loved to see a photo of that. I will close by saying this is probably the second wurst post I have seen from you! 🙂
May 4, 2011 @ 9:41 pm
Haha.. the mind reading is getting better then. When my friend originally told me about having square hotdogs, I was thinking about the American style in plastic packaging that makes them kind of square instead of round like here. Hadn’t thought he meant big-square like a hamburger.
May 4, 2011 @ 1:32 am
I did not have Meat Cheese while I was in Germany. I’m surprised they’ve never heard of Spam though…not that they’re missing out!
May 4, 2011 @ 9:39 pm
Nope, no loss there without Spam.
May 3, 2011 @ 11:47 pm
My mother in law serves Fleischsalad at lunch time. It looks to me like tiny sticks of cut up hot dog in a mayonnaisy dressing with some crunchy bits in it. Tastes a bit like ‘hot dog salad’. Must be made of Fleischkaese. Cheers!
May 4, 2011 @ 9:39 pm
Wurstsalat is what we call it here. Yup, cold tiny slices of Fleischkäse is indeed what it looks like. That I have tried before and can’t deal with it cold. Hmm crunchy bits? Veggies?
May 4, 2011 @ 10:49 pm
You guys crack me up 🙂 The “crunchy bits” are most likely pickles. Wurstsalat is usually made with Fleischwurst I think (similar, but not the same as Fleischkaese).
May 8, 2011 @ 5:36 pm
Hmm.. so much to know about German meat products.
May 3, 2011 @ 10:28 pm
Oh, and I forgot…. we don’t have SPAM in Germany. Now you have a sample of two 🙂
And also I forgot to mention that it’s fairly difficult to find Fleischkaese north of Frankfurt. It’s more of a Southern thing.
May 3, 2011 @ 10:27 pm
Yeah for the Fleischkaese 🙂 It does kind of taste like a high-quality hot dog. Delicious! And a great lunch if you pick it up fresh at a butcher’s shop. Yumm!
May 4, 2011 @ 9:37 pm
We have a few butcher’s shops with street windows. They serve their own sausages and Fleischkäse to the passersby. I will have to remember to not turn my nose up at it anymore.