I made these for a big family gathering. The German accompaniments and pork are matched perfectly. Get out the cold beer and mustard and enjoy!
For the pork
2 pork hocks
2 trotters from the hocks if available and split – or 8 chicken wings or other bones (optional)
500ml chicken stock
2 large carrots cut in half lengthwise
2 large celery sticks cut in half to
1 large onion sliced
4 cloves of garlic unpeeled
For the marinade
2 litres of standard cider
2 bay leaves
10 juniper berries
German frankfurters or wurst to suit tastes (optional)
For the sauerkraut
1 pack or jar of sauerkraut to suit tastes
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 small onion
1 eating apple, peeled and chopped
For the potatoes
1.2 kg potatoes
200g dry cured unsmoked bacon (optional)
This recipe uses two pork hocks from CD Jennings and Sons in Surbiton. I had the idea to use try to barbecue these joints using slow indirect heat. It’s not a popular joint for roasting in the UK (see my article here), but I am sure I had memories of large pork ‘shanks’ being served in German (Bavarian) beer-house type restaurants. Indeed, online searching quickly results in the German specialty ‘schweinshaxe’ a hock of pork slow roasted to give tender meat and a crispy skin. Oh good, I thought! This would be perfect with my favourite sauerkraut and bratkartoffein. The two hocks will easily feed 6 or more people.
NB: If you are using a BBQ it must be big enough to use an indirect heat. Remember that taking sauerkraut from a jar is like one of those magic tricks where an endless stream of knotted handkerchiefs is pulled out of a hat. A large jar is more than enough for a crowd.
Marinate the hocks: Wash and put the hocks in a large pan or bowl. Add the marinade ingredients to the pan and add the hocks to the marinade. Soak overnight in a cool place or in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven or light the BBQ: Oven to 230C, Gas 8 – the BBQ to high
Boil the trotters and hocks: Wash the trotters if using, add to a pan of boiling water and bring back to the boil for 1 minute, then drain. Bring the hocks to the boil in their marinade. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and place on plates. Reserve the marinade.
Cut the fat: Using a sharp knife, cut the fat in thin circle strips around the hocks without cutting into the meat (see photo above).
Roast in the oven or indirect BBQ: In a roasting tray, place the hocks on the trotters if using (or other bones), wash the vegetables and add. Scatter the garlic cloves. Rub salt into the skin. Add 250ml chicken stock and 250ml marinade (with some of the aromatics) in the roasting tin. Put in the oven or the BBQ for 15 minutes and then turn down to 160C, Gas 3. Roast for 2 – 2.5 hours. Check and turn during roasting, fill the tray with more stock and marinade after an hour or if evaporating. Turn the heat up to help crisp the skin at the end of cooking. Take the joints from the tray and set aside on a large plate covering with foil to rest. Towards the end of cooking prepare the sauerkraut and the potatoes.
Cook the sauerkraut: Test the strength of the pickle – if it is very strong and intense give the sauerkraut a quick rinse. In an enamel casserole with lid – or similar – add a 1 tbs of light olive oil and heat. Add the onion and fry gently for 10 minutes. Add the caraway seed and stir for a minute, then add the apple and sauerkraut – add a small knob of butter and a splash of water. Close the lid and cook on low heat for 20 minutes – check there is enough liquid in the pan and add more water if necessary. Cook the sausages according to the instructions and add to the sauerkraut toward the end of end of cooking. Season the sauerkraut with salt and pepper.
Cook the potatoes: Wash and peel the potatoes and cut in to chunks. Add to a large pan of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are nearly cooked. Test with a knife to make sure they are still a little firm. Do not over cook. Add 2 tbs of light olive oil to a large saute pan, or frying pan or wok. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the potatoes and fry on medium high heat for about 20 minutes until browned. Add the bacon and a tablespoon of butter (optional) and continue cooking for a couple more minutes. Drain if necessary on kitchen towels. Season with salt and pepper.
Make the gravy: The contents of the roasting tray should make a fine gravy. Check the liquid in the roasting tray. If there is little liquid add more boiling water, otherwise pour the liquid from the roasting tin into a sauce pan and reduce. If you need more flavour from the bones and vegetables then put all the ingredients of the roasting tray into a pan and simmer with more water. If it needs to be thickened then add a little roux to the gravy. Season and serve with the pork.