Schweinshaxe is a German dish made using pork knuckle. The knuckles are seasoned with a spice rub then cooked until tender, usually slow roasted or simmered. The roasted version is well liked for its crispy skin. The spice rub includes caraway if roasted, but bay leaves and cloves if simmering. Most recipes also call for German beer.
For both tenderness and crispy skin, the knuckle is sometimes cooked twice, first by poaching in spices then drained and roasted. However, this isn’t the traditional preparation.
In German, schwein means pig and haxe means knuckle, shank or leg. Pork knuckles are otherwise known as ham hocks. It is located at the joint where the pigs foot attaches to its leg.
In northern Germany fresh pork knuckle is cured in pickling salt then poached and simmered in water or broth. This is known are eisben, ice bone or Berliner eisben. It’s believed to be called this because the cooked knuckle becomes white. Schweinshaxe is usually served alongside German staples like potatoes, dumplings, sauerkraut or braised red cabbage and gravy.
Origin & Cultural Significance
Schweinshaxe originates from Bavaria in Southern Germany. Certain parts of the pig, such as the knuckle was often eaten by the poorest and schweinshaxe was first prepared by peasant farmers. It’s now eaten in most parts of Germany and is a popular Octoberfest food, particularly the crispy version.
German Schweinshaxe Recipe
Schweinshaxe is a German dish made using pork knuckles. The knuckles are seasoned with a spice rub then cooked until tender, usually slow roasted or simmered.
- Pork knuckles, about 1.5 lbs each, skin-on, uncured, unsmoked - 2
- Caraway seeds - 1 tbsp
- Black pepper - 1 tsp
- Kosher salt - 1 tbsp
- Onion - 1
- Dark German lager – 12 oz.
- Preheat the oven to 300 F.
- Slice the onion into rings and place on the bottom of a roasting pan.
- Grind 1 tbsp caraway seeds and mix with ground pepper and salt.
- Score the skin of each pork hock and rub with the spice mix.
- Marinate for 1 hour.
- Place hocks on top of onions, with the tapered end facing up.
- Slow roast for about 90 -120 minutes (depending on how large the hocks are, about 90 mins for 1.5 lbs hocks and about 120 for larger).
- Add the beer and a little bit of water to the pan and continue slow roasting for another 60-90 minutes.
- If the skin is browning too fast consider loosely tenting it with foil.
- Transfer the hocks to another pan. The drippings and onions can be saved to make gravy.
- Place the hocks back in the oven and either roast at 400 F or broil, until the skin gets crispy and puffy. Watch them closely during this step to avoid burning.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 461Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 150mgSodium: 1045mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 46g