Pork hocks and sauerkraut ("Schweinshaxe oder Eisbein und Sauerkraut"), a favorite of my (Opa) grandfather, is a really old traditional German meal. It's also one of the Oktoberfest recipes that are used to accompany the traditional foods that celebrate this festival. German pork hocks are usually cooked from raw rather than smoked.
Although I admit, if I can find smoked pork hocks, I'll buy them. They're just like ham and are great in a potato or pea soup.
Fresh pork hocks are another matter. They may be difficult to find in many grocery stores and you may need to go to a deli or a butcher.
When you look at the hocks, you may see nothing but fat and bones. So, look for meaty ones and you'll be surprised by the delicious taste.
When serving, cut away the fat. Traditionally, this was eaten, just dunked in mustard! It made me wonder how healthy this could be? Yet my Opa ate lots of "fatty" meats and little vegetables and lived to his late 80's. Personally, I cut away the fat!
The long slow cooking makes the hocks tender, yet retaining their juiciness. If you prefer the hocks to have a crispy crust, then follow the recipe for Schweinshaxe. This one is started on the stove and finished in the oven. A bit more work, but worth it.
In comparison, the recipe below is an easy and quick one to prepare, yet it does take some time to cook. Serve this with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes for a traditional German meal.
"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength." Proverbs 17:22 (NLT)
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