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Pork hocks and sauerkraut, aka Schweinshaxe or Eisbein und Sauerkraut, was a favorite of my Opa. It's 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.
Oma's Pork Hocks and Sauerkraut
4 meaty pork hocks
2 large onions, quartered
2 bay leaves
12 peppercorns, slightly crushed
1½ Tbsp sugar
28 oz can sauerkraut, drained
1 tsp caraway seeds
Add pork hocks, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and sugar to a large pot.
Cover with hot water and bring to simmer.
Cover and simmer for about 2 hours.
Drain off most of the cooking liquid. Add sauerkraut and caraway seeds.
Simmer for another half hour.
Additional Tips for Cooking Pork Hocks
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, you can cut away the fat. Traditionally, this was eaten, just dunked in mustard!
I used to wonder how healthy this could be? Yet my Opa ate lots of "fatty" meats and little vegetables. He lived to his late 80's. Me, however, I cut away most of the fat!
The long slow cooking makes the hocks tender, yet retaining their juiciness.
If you prefer the hocks to have a crispy crust as in this photo, 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 above is an easy and quick one to prepare, yet it does take some time to cook. Serve this with boiled potatoes for a traditional German meal.
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