Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Schweinhax'n mit Reiberknodel und Sauerkraut

Confused? Well, pictured above is a roasted shank of pork, Bavarian style. It is served with a potato dumpling and sauerkraut, a combination which is particularly popular in the restaurants and beer halls of Munich. Although I have eaten this precise combination in Munich on many occasions, this is my first attempt at making it myself. I will, however, be totally honest and reveal that the sauerkraut is out of a jar. As making sauerkraut from scratch takes several weeks, I decided to leave my attempt in that respect for another time.

Preparing the Pork

The first step in this recipe is to prepare the pork and get it in to the oven. It will take around two hours to roast.

As can hopefully be seen in the image above, I have first of all made two cuts with a sharp pair of scissors along the length of the pork shank, through the skin, at either side of the under part. This will allow the skin to shrink and crisp up on top and expose more of the meat directly to the heat during cooking for a better roasted effect. I then rub the shank all over with salt and quickly seal it all around in a hot, dry frying pan.

The oven should be pre-heated to 325F/170C/Gas Mark 3. One pint of fresh chicken stock should then be heated in a pan until almost boiling. The pork should be placed in a large roasting tray, importantly ensuring that the flatter side with the two cuts through the skin is made to be the underside. Around half of the chicken stock should be poured over the pork before it is placed in to the oven.

The pork shank should be basted every twenty to thirty minutes. The leftover half pint of chicken stock should be kept ready, as it is likely that it will be required during cooking to top up the liquid levels in the tray.

Preparing the Potato Dumplings

The following ingredients will make two potato dumplings, each approximately 3" in diameter.

2 medium potatoes
2 tsp plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tsp farina/semolina flour
2 tsp fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 beaten egg
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and white pepper to taste

When the pork is in the oven, the potatoes should be peeled and chopped. They should be added to a pot of cold water and the pot put on to heat. When the water is boiling, the heat should be reduced and the potato pieces simmered until soft, around twenty-five minutes. The potatoes should then be drained, mashed, covered and left to cool while the pork roasts.

When the pork is ready, it should be removed from the oven to a large plate. Remember that it is imperative to ensure that the pork is fully cooked. The easiest way to do this is to stick a skewer in to the thickest part of the meat and ensure that the juices run clear. The plate should be covered with aluminium foil and the meat left to rest while the potato dumplings are prepared and cooked.

A large pot of water should be put on to reach a boil while the potato dumpling ingredients are mixed together in a large bowl. When the ingredients are thoroughly mixed together - the easiest way to do this is by hand - the resultant dough should then be split in to two equal portions. If the dough appears too wet to hold together in a rolled ball, a little more flour should be added until an effective consistency is achieved. The dough should then be rolled in to spheres and gently deposited in the boiling water. The heat should be reduced to achieve a simmer and the dumplings cooked for fifteen minutes.

When the dumplings are almost ready, the remaining stock from the pork should be reheated to be served as gravy. It should be lusciously thick and tasty. The pork shank can then be added to a large plate, the gravy spooned alongside and the sauerkraut and potato dumpling sat in the bed of gravy. A little freshly chopped dill leaves scattered over the potato as a garnish complete the dish.

A Bavarian Beer is Essential with a Schweinhax'n!

In Munich, a schweinhax'n will often be served with a mass (litre) of local beer. For a true Bavarian experience, therefore, try to get a Bavarian beer from your local supermarket and ensure that this traditional meal is enjoyed to the full.

If you want to know more about Bavarian beer, food and associated traditions, you may find the site linked to below to be of interest.

Great Places to Visit for a Beer in Munich, Germany

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