Citizens! As a globe-trotting revolutionary – the Potentate of Peregrination, YOUR TFD! – I have been privileged to spend the last week in Germany, especially enjoying the beautiful city of Munich! While there, I had the opportunity to enjoy a classic Bavarian recipe – braised pigs trotters in beer sauce, aka Schweinshaxe mit Biersoße. It is rich, porcine and totally delicious – if you’ve never had the opportunity to try pigs trotters (sometimes referred to as the knuckle), you are in for a real treat!
Schweinshaxe in German cuisine is a roasted ham hock (or “pork knuckle”). The ham hock is the end of the pig’s leg, just above the ankle and below the meaty ham portion. It is especially popular in Bavaria as Schweinshaxn or Sauhax. A variation of this dish is known in parts of Germany as Eisbein, in which the ham hock is pickled and usually slightly boiled.
Schweinshaxe is one of the formerly typical peasant foods, in which recipes were composed to make inexpensive and tough cuts of meat more palatable (as demonstrated for beef with the popular Sauerbraten). Such inexpensive cuts usually require long periods of preparation. The meat is sometimes marinated for days, and in the case of big cuts up to a week. The Schweinshaxe is then roasted at low temperatures, typically—depending on size—for two to three hours. The most popular side dishes are potatoes and cabbage variations.
As noted on kitchenproject.com in this lightly-edited excerpt:
This historically peasant like food has become one of the most celebrated foods of Germany that has become a quinessential part of Oktoberfest in Germany. For good reason it is a fun, and incredible presentation – at the 2014 Munich Oktoberfest, they sold over 80,259 Schweinshaxe!
In Northern Germany this Pork Hock is called Eisbein, which means ‘Ice Bone’. The Hock is white so looks like snow. It also is prepared during the cold months. It is then brined in salt, water and a Pickling salt called “Prague Powder” and some spices for a few days to a few weeks. Then simmered on water with spices and served right out of the pot or you can crisp up the skin.
The Austrian version of this dish is called Stelze. It is usually marinated or pre-boiled in a caraway seed and garlic brine, roasted until the skin is crisp, and served with mustard, horseradish, and pickled chili peppers. The Bavarian version is classically served with potato dumplings and red cabbage, or with sauerkraut and potatoes.
I have heartily adopted a touch of the Austrian version in my recipe, both because I love the flavor profiles it offers as well as the fact Austria is literally right over the border from Munich.
The pork is obviously central to this dish, so be sure you use only the finest pig trotters – and these are it! As to hot German mustard, I greatly prefer this brand, but any very strong mustard will work. Kitchen Bouquet is a secret weapon of many chefs to achieve proper color and flavor of dark sauces and gravies – you can buy it here.
Citizens, I will continue to return to Europe very frequently in the next few months (including Germany!) and for this I am profoundly grateful, as I love the countries here and it gives me a great rationale to share the local recipes with you, in situ! 😀 I might suggest finishing off this delectable main dish with a classic German dessert. Do not be intimidated by the unusual cut or the fact that this is a LOT of divine swine to polish off – trust me, both you and your guests will easily and happily rise to the occasion!
Battle on – the Generalissimo
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