A la schweinshaxe (German-style roasted pork knuckle)

casaveneracion.com A la schweinshaxe (German-style roasted pork knuckle)

If I had juniper berries, this would be an authentic schweinshaxe, a German roast pork knuckle (or trotters, if you prefer) with tender and moist meat, and crisp skin. Alas, I don’t know where to get juniper berries.

Still and all, I decided to go ahead and make this dish because I wanted to find out if it really is possible to make the skin of the pork knuckle crisp without preliminary boiling. See, in the Philippines, there is a similar dish called crispy pata. Unlike the German schweinshaxe, however, in cooking crispy pata, the pork knuckle is first simmered in salty water until thoroughly cooked. The pork is drained then deep fried until the skin puffs and turns into crackling (roasting over high heat also achieves the same result).

So, the question was whether I could achieve similar results without the long simmering part. The answer: yes and no.

The skin did turn crisp but not puffed. Perhaps, that shouldn’t really be surprising. Lechon is not simmered before roasted yet the skin turns crisp too. Same principle.

The huge difference was in the texture of the meat. Because the meat was touching the braising liquid, no juices were lost. In fact, the meat absorbed all the moisture and flavors during the long roasting hours. Truly succulent.

In terms of convenience, the upside of the German way of roasting pork knuckle (vis a vis the crispy pata) is that after the initial preparation, you just pop the pork in the oven and need not bother with it until the roasting time is done. Moreover, there are less utensils to wash.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole pork knuckle
    1 tbsp. of caraway seeds
    2 tbsps. of salt
    2 tbsps. of grated garlic
    2 large onions, thinly sliced
    1 can of beer (pale, not dark) plus equal amount of broth
    2 sprigs of rosemary
    2 sprigs of thyme
    salt
    pepper

Instructions

  1. casaveneracion.com A la schweinshaxe (German-style roasted pork knuckle)

    Preheat the oven to 425F.

    Mix together the garlic, caraway seeds and salt.

    casaveneracion.com A la schweinshaxe (German-style roasted pork knuckle)

    Rub all over the pork.

    Cover the bottom of an ovenproof dish with the onion slices.

    casaveneracion.com A la schweinshaxe (German-style roasted pork knuckle)

    Stand the pork knuckle in the dish, the end with the exposed meat touching the onion slices. Pour in the beer and broth. The liquid should come up to almost half the height of the pork knuckle. Depending on the size of the pan, you may need to use more or less broth. The trick really is to expose the skin to the oven’s dry heat while the meat absorbs the liquid to prevent it from turning dry. That’s why the pork knuckle is in a “standing” position.

    Add the herbs. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

    Roast at 425F for two to two-and-a-half hours. If the liquid dries up, add more broth, no more than a cup at a time.

    casaveneracion.com A la schweinshaxe (German-style roasted pork knuckle)

    Transfer the pork knuckle on a plate. You may make a gravy by straining the remaining liquid from the pan, adding flour and butter and cooking until thick.

Cooking time (duration): 2 hours and fifteen minutes or more, depending on the size of the pork

Number of servings (yield): 3

Meal type: lunch or supper

Comments

  1. Doddie Householder says

    I think there’s a lot of juniper berries here in Korea (the dried ones). Want me to send you some?

  2. says

    I really miss the ‘pilipino’ food. Crispy pata, letson, atsara, sisig, ube… The last time that i ate atsara was 8 years ago. Pag may umuuwi, lola ko lagi ako pinapadalahan sa Spain nang ube at tikoy.
    Buti nga may turbo broiler na dito. My mom brought from the Philippines her own turbo seven-eight years ago, and pag may special occasions nagluluto kami nang crispy pata. Where my mom lives there’s a Sari-Sari store (like 5 min walking) at doon kami bumibili nang Mang Toma’s sauce :)
    This recipe is so similar with the pork knuckles recipe of Nigella Lawson, right?

    When I’m craving for filipino foods and i can’t call my mom because she’s working i always visit your blog, its so inspiring!
    Thank you so much for share with us your recipes.

    Greetings from Madrid (Spain)

    • Connie says

      Hi May. If you have convection ovens in Madrid, you don’t need a turbo broiler.

      I saw a pork knuckle recipe of Nigella and it her version of schweinshaxe. :)

  3. jean says

    Wow! this looks so delicious. i have been your big fun and tried some of your oh so yummy food! i wanted to try this for my birthday tomorrow. how do i make the broth and can you suggest a brand of beer that’s pale and is easily found in a supermarket. can i cook this in a turbo broiler?
    one more thing, can you suggest a good pasta (different from the usual spaghetti) – that my kids (5 and 2 years old) will also like to eat. :)

    • Connie says

      San Miguel Beer. :)

      As to pasta, I think you should bring your kids to the supermarket and make them choose the shape that they prefer.

  4. jean says

    geesh… i don’t know that my picture will look like that. please, I am happy to comment but don’t know how to make a silly happy smile here :) so please disregard that ugly face! lol

    • Connie says

      You can get a gravatar, Jean, so that your own face will show up in your comments. :)