PERRYSBURG — Brook Price likes the good luck she gets from serving “pretels,” an heirloom holiday recipe that has been passed down from her grandpa.
“Pretels are a dish from my grandpa, Andrew Rosebrook, born in Deshler, Ohio. It is a meat recipe made by those in Henry County, most likely of German heritage,” Price said. “What grandpa always said is it’s a way to make the meat last longer.
“His dad died when he was young and he was raised on a farm by his mother with five kids, out in Henry County. He always said things like, ‘We had corn husks for toilet paper.’ So, they had pretels a lot, because you could essentially add oatmeal to your meat, fry it up and make it last a long time. It was basically a Depression-era food.”
She and her brothers would eat pretels on New Year’s Day, served with sauerkraut. It was supposed to bring good luck.
“No recipe. Grandpa would make it a couple times a year, however he thought it should be made. There are people in Henry County who will know what this is,” Price said. “We’re pretty sure of the spelling, but we could hardly find it on the internet.”
He owned an IGA grocery store in Pandora, Ohio, where he was the butcher. Price grew up in Pandora, but now lives in Perrysburg.
“He always told us that the proper way to eat it was with apple jelly and white bread,” Price said. “He would point out that if we used the wrong stuff, like grape jelly.”
It’s very similar to the goetta, made in Cincinnati. Goetta uses ground beef and pork. Pretels uses roast beef and pork shoulder roast, but fork tender.
“The trick is that when you put it in the mixer, you don’t want to mix it too much, or it gets pulpy. You still want it a little bit in its shredded form, otherwise when you cook it with the oatmeal it gets too mushy. Then when you cook it, it won’t crisp,” Price said. “You also don’t want to drain all the fat out, or it won’t taste as good.”
Price’s mother, Amy Miller, practiced making it and came up with the consistent recipe.
“My mom is so excited, because there are probably only 20 people in left in the world that really know what pretels are,” Price said.
“I enjoy the dish, but my family are not as much fans. They will eat it, but it’s ‘eh?’” Price said. “Myself, and my four brothers and sister, we eat it. No problem. Everyone else is a little hesitant. I like it, but we have other things available to eat on New Year’s Day, for family that are not so interested in pretels.”
Miller is the first of Price’s family to move to Northwest Ohio. She was the principal at Waterville Elementary. It was through her encouragement that Price moved to Perrysburg.
Price is the assistant superintendent at Perrysburg Schools. She has served several roles with the district, but like many professionals in education, the students who have known her are not really aware that she has a life, with a family, outside of the school world.
Joseph, 11, watched the cooking with real interest and listened to the interview, with complete disdain. He said he would never eat a pretel. He decided, at the age of 5, that he would not eat animals, and has been a vegetarian since.
He’s the couple’s youngest, a sixth grader at Hull Prairie Intermediate.
Brook’s husband, Dan Price, laughingly called pretels “an acquired taste.”
Their oldest, Luke, is headed off to Marietta College to play soccer. Their third son, Jack is a senior at Penta Career Center. He may have avoided being home that night.
Sports are in the family. Brook was a track athlete, specializing in the heptathlon at Bowling Green State University. She and Dan are Falcon flames. He was a hockey player who went on to play professionally on several teams, before getting into the auto business, initially in cars sales and financing, now selling machinery for auto repair work, business-to-business.
“It’s a farmer’s way to make meat stretch,” Price said, but it didn’t hurt her athletic ability.
2 ½ pounds beef chuck roast
3 pounds pork shoulder roast
8 cups water
4 cups plain instant oatmeal
6 teaspoons allspice
4 teaspoons salt
Slow cook both the beef and pork until they are fork tender. Separate with a fork and then very briefly shred finely using a mixer. Set aside.
Heat 8 cups of broth from the roasts, or alternatively use chicken broth. Broth from the meat tends to work better as the fat helps in frying. Mix everything together. Fry crisp as patties, that will look like a hamburger.
Serve on white bread with apple jelly. Price prefers using pre-sliced Hawaiian bread, but said that French bread would also be nice, because of the crust, but that’s not how her grandfather would have eaten it. They would be eaten by hand, open faced.