Oma's Schweinshaxe ~ How to make Pork Hocks
➤ by Oma Gerhild Fulson
Learn how to cook pork hocks (aka pork knuckles), not just for Oktoberfest, but anytime you want something traditionally German and wonderfully delicious!
There are two main methods for cooking pork hocks. One is traditional in southern Germany and the other, in northern Germany.
And, although I'm a 'northern' girl, I must say, that 'southern' dish is absolutely fabulous. That yummy crackling is what everyone craves.
The southern one, Schweinshaxe, is a roasted pork hock, with a crispy-skinned crackling, that is common in Bavaria, especially for Oktoberfest.
In fact, if you're visiting Germany and are in the Munich area, this is one meal you'll want to order. Just make sure you're hungry, because it's a huge order of meat:
The northern one, called Eisbein, is a boiled pork hock, that's eaten with sauerkraut and pureed peas. This is the one I grew up with:
Is there a difference between ham hocks and pork hocks?
In reality, both are pork hocks, which are the 'ankles' of the pig. However, the rear ones can also be called ham hocks.
Is there a difference between the Schweinshaxe and the Crispy Pata?
Crispy Pata is a Filipino dish that's often served with a soy-vinegar dip. They are boiled pork hocks that are chilled and then deep fried, getting a wonderful crispy outside layer.
Since the cooking method is different, the taste will be different. But, similar all the same. Of course, Germans don't routinely, if at all, use a soy-vinegar dip.
Give us that sauerkraut on the side and we're really happy :)
What are pork knuckles and pork shanks?
Pork knuckles are just another name for ham hocks or pork hocks. The pork shanks, also called ham shanks, on the other hand, are just above the pork hocks and are a much meatier cut.
Both, though, have a lot of skin, fat, and bones.
What do I use for these Roasted Pork Hocks?
For the recipe below use fresh pork hocks (ham hocks).
Smoked pork hocks won't work for these recipes. You may need to search at your local butcher for them. An Asian butcher may also have these if you have no German deli close by.
How to make Pork Hocks, Bavarian Style
There are two basic recipes, both for Schweinshaxe, the southern one, the one that's enjoyed in Bavaria.
Both have a similar end result, although the first one has a more flavored meat. It uses both cooking on the stove and finishing off in the oven. It may sound like extra work. It really isn't and the results are worth it!
The second way, easier way to make Schweinshaxn is just to roast it, slow and long. Both are traditional and have their own followers, each claiming their pork hocks are the best.
However, the first way, the way I show you below, is the boil and roast method. It not only gives a yummy meat, it also produces a yummy broth that can be used to make a gravy, as well as for soups, etc. A two-in-one recipe, so to speak.
This is REAL German food, Oktoberfest style!
Pork Hock Info
- Schweinshaxe (as it's called in southern Germany) is a roasted ham hock or pork knuckle and usually served with sauerkraut
- Eisbein (as it's called in northern Germany) is usually boiled and served with sauerkraut and pureed yellow peas
- Originally this was considered food for the poor people, aka Armeleuteessen, since it was made with inexpensive cuts of meat
- Since this is a tough piece of meat, full of connective tissue, ligaments, and muscle, it needs to be cooked low and slow, to turn it into delicious fork-tender meat
What to serve with Schweinshaxe?
The roasted pork hock is the star of the show. Not much more is needed. Often just boiled potatoes, potato dumplings or Spätzle are served on the side. Sauerkraut or red cabbage are favorite side dishes.
Add a bit of gravy, some mustard, and you're good to go. Beer, of course, is the drink of choice.
Buying Pork Hocks: Tips and Tricks
- When you buy the fresh pork hocks, try to find the meatiest ones you can.
- Depending on the size of the hocks, one to two meaty hocks will feed about three to four people. Served with boiled potatoes and sauerkraut, you've a traditional Oktoberfest meal.
- Check the fresh pork hocks to see if there are any hairs on the hocks before you cook them. If there are, the easiest way to get rid of them is to singe them off. Light a candle and hold the "hairy" hock over the flame, and the hair will "melt away".
Can I use Smoked Pork Hocks?
Smoked pork hocks are great, however they will make this dish taste like ham. If you want the traditional "pork hock" dinner, the type you get at Oktoberfest, then buy fresh pork hocks.
Learning how to cook pork hocks so that they'll be similar to what can be had in Munich, really is easy.
In the photo below, the fresh pork hocks have already been boiled. The fat layer has been scored, the veggies added to the pan, and this is ready to go into the oven.
These boiled pork hocks are ready for the oven:
Depending on the oven, you may need to keep the hocks in for a bit longer than the 30 minutes in order to get the amount of 'browning' and 'crispiness' that you wish.
If they aren't getting brown and crispy enough, turn on the broiler. Be careful though, that they don't burn.
Make sure that the base of the meat is in the liquid. To get a really crispy skin, do not baste the fat layer. It needs to be dry in order for the real browning to occur.
Fresh out of the oven, these pork hocks with their crispy rind are perfection:
Ready to make these pork hocks?
Oma's Roasted Pork Hocks ~ Schweinshaxe
Roasted pork hocks are not just for Oktoberfest, but anytime you want something traditionally German and wonderfully delicious! There are two main ways to cook pork hocks: one, Eisbein, is common in southern Germany and the other, in northern Germany.
The southern one, Schweinshaxe, is a roasted pork hock, with a crispy-skinned crackling, that is popular in Bavaria. So good.
Makes 2 servings
- 1 leek, well cleaned, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 meaty fresh pork hocks (or more)
- salt, peppercorns, cumin (if desired)
- Put vegetables, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp peppercorns, and pork hocks in pot.
- Add water to cover, bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until hocks are just tender - about 2 - 3 hours. Do not overcook.
- Drain, keeping vegetables and cooking liquid.
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- To baking dish, add drained pork hocks, drained cooked vegetables, and a small amount of the cooking liquid. Score the fat layer.
- Bake 30 minutes, occasionally basting only the meat, not the fat layer, with cooking liquid. If the fat layer isn't brown and crispy, turn on the broiler and continue browning. Keep watch that it doesn't burn. This could take 5 - 10 minutes.
- Serve the hocks with potatoes and sauerkraut. If desired, serve the cooking liquid (thicken with corn starch if desired). Add a bit of cumin to liquid if desired.
- Keep the extra drained liquid from cooking the pork hocks. Use what's needed for the roasting process. Let the rest cool and refrigerate. Skim off the congealed fat and use the broth for soups or stews.
- Serve bread dumplings with this for a real southern German treat.
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Oma's Schweinshaxe ~ How to make Pork Hocks
By Oma Gerhild Fulson
Learn how to make German Roasted Pork Hocks (Pork Knuckles) anytime you want something traditionally German and wonderfully delicious! A hearty Oktoberfest meal for any time of the year!
Yield: 1 hock per person
Ingredients: pork hock,
For the full recipe, scroll up ...
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