Schweinshaxe (pork shanks/knuckles) with Sauerkraut and Mashed Potatoes

And here I am again back in the US from my 2 weeks of vacation in Germany and reminiscing about all the great German food I ate and the 7 pounds I gained in 2 weeks – yes you read that correct – 7 pounds….and it was all worth it :-). Here is the list of meals and desserts I ate in case you a curious what one needs to eat to gain 7 pounds:

Fleischsalat (cold meat salat)

Mandarin Yoghurt cake

Kohlrouladen (cabbage filled with ground beef)

Butterkuchen (butter almond coffee cake)

Eisbein (boiled ham shank) with Sauerkraut and Mashed Potatoes

Kohlrabi with Bratwurst

Rinderbraten (beef roast) with Wirsing (chines cabbage) and Boehmische Brotknoedel (bread dumplings)

Spinat (spinach) with eggs and mashed potatoes

Strawberry pistachio cake

Waffles with Cherries and Cream

Green beans with ribs

Bacon Pancake

Apple Pancake

Hamshank with Dumplings and Krautsalat (cabbage/slaw)

Pork tendrloin with “Feldsalat and potato gratin

Traditional German Breakfast

Germknoedel (yeast dumpling with plum filling and vanilla sauce)

Schopperln with red cabbage

Flammkuchen

Reibekuchen with apple sauce

But now to the actual recipe of this blog entry: Rheinische Schweinshaxe. The trick is that you boil the shank for 2 hours and then broil it for one hour. That way it stays juicy and you can make gravy AND get super crisp skin. The crispy skin is my favorite part and if I wouldn’t have guests, I would just pick off the skin from all shanks and eat it all by myself ;-). Make sure to check the skin a couple of times and touch it (carefully) while its baking, that’s the only way how you can figure out if the skin is indeed crisp.

Below you can find the recipe for the Schweinshaxe. For the Sauerkraut – which you can cook a day ahead and then just reheat – please check out this recipe. I haven’t written down a mashed potato recipe, as I always think its self explanatory, but just in case…

How to make mashed potatoes:

  1. calculate 2-3 potatoes per person
  2. peel potatoes and cut into quarters
  3. fill a pot with water and drop in the potatoes, add a little bit of salt, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. When the potatoes boil, reduce heat to low and let potatoes simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Drain potatoes into a strainer and put the pot back on the stove on low heat.
  5. Add 1 stick of butter for 10-15 potatoes, less (1/2 a stick) if you make a smaller portion and 1/4 – 1/2 cup of milk. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 a teaspoon of pepper and a couple dashes of nutmeg.
  6. If you have a potato ricer, start ricing the potatoes into the liquid. If you don’t have a ricer, dump them all into the liquid and mash with a hand masher or an electric mixer. If the mashed potatoes look “dry” add a little bit more milk but be careful that your mashed potatoes don’t turn out too runny. Do a final taste test if they need more seasoning. Turn off heat and cover. Once you are ready to serve the mashed potatoes, beat them one more time to make them a little bit more fluffy.

Schweinshaxe with Sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Schweinshaxe for 6 people
  • crackling fat (if you can’t get crackling fat, margarine will do)
  • Salt, Pepper, Garlic Salt
  • Hot Mustard (you can order German Mustard: Loewensenf or hot Chinese mustard will also do)
  • 1 – 1,5 cup of beef broth
  • 3-5 Juniper berries
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic

Directions:

  1. Wash the shanks and pat them dry. Generously sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic salt, rub the seasoning in
  2. Heat up the crackling fat in a big heavy bottom pot and brown the shanks from all sides on high heat, watch out though that the fat doesn’t get too brown, then turn the heat a little bit down – this will take about 15-20 minutes to get them really brown from all sides.
  3. Take shanks out, turn heat to medium and cook onions for 2 -3 minutes until golden. Meanwhile rub 1/2 a teaspoon of mustard on the top meat part of the shank (not on the skin). When the onions are gold, add the beef broth, juniper berries, bay leaves, and put the shanks back into the pot with the mustard meat side up. Cover and let simmer for 1 hour on small heat.
  1. After an hour, turn the mustard meat side down and simmer for another hour on low heat.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. After the shanks have been simmering for 2 hours, take the shanks out and put them on a baking sheet. Bake the shanks for another 45-60 minutes until you have a very crispy skin. If the skin is not crispy enough broil it for a couple of minutes (but watch closely)
  3. While the shank is baking, make the gravy. Pour the the gravy through a strainer into a pot and put back on the stove and bring to a boil. Mix 1/2 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of flour. Now pour the water/flour mixture – a little bit at a time – into the boiling gravy and thicken it to your liking. If you like your gravy thick you can use the entire 1/2 cup of water/flour mixture, if you like it thinner only use a little bit (1/4 cup).

Once the shanks are done, cut the shank in half at the bone and plate your guests a good size piece of meat and a piece of the crispy skin (that’s my absolute favorite part of the shank). Serve with mashed potatoes and Sauerkaut. Make sure not to pour the gravy over the Sauerkraut, only over the meat and mashed potatoes.

Guten Appetit.

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