Before everyone in the house caught colds, we had a visit from Steffi and Steffen — some of our friends from Bavaria. Somehow, we managed to convince Steffi (who is currently 6 months pregnant) that it would be the perfect weekend for her to make Schweinebraten for us with Blaukraut (red cabbage) and Semmelknödel (bread dumplings). She promised to make it for us a couple years ago but it just never seemed to be the right time. This probably wasn’t the right time either, but oh my Lord are we glad she made it…and also taught me how to do it myself. It was, by far, one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. The pork roast just melted in your mouth and had so much flavor. I think none of us said a word during the meal because we were just shoveling the food into our mouths. Wait, we did have a lot of “Mmmmh” and “It’s SO good” being said. But after your kitchen smells better than Oktoberfest for about 3 hours, you don’t talk much once the food is on the table — you ENJOY IT!
One of the keys to Schweinebraten is getting the right cut of meat. You want a nice large boneless pork shoulder (from the Nacken or nape of the neck) if possible. A pork loin roast or butt will also work. But it should be fairly free of fat except for the band of fat on the top of the meat which is connected to the pork skin. Yep, skin. To make an authentic Schweinebraten, you need a roast with skin on it which will become crunchy and puffy as you cook it. It’s one of the best parts of the whole meal. In Germany, you’d normally look for a Schweinekrustebraten or just Krustebraten…but you must make sure that the skin is on there, not just the fat. Our roast was around 3-4 kilos (6-9 pounds) — which made about 8 very generous portions. Usually when you buy the cut of pork from the butcher here in Germany, they will just ask how many people it’s for instead of you selecting something based on weight. Other recipes I’ve seen suggest that 1 kilo (2-3 pounds) is plenty for 4 people. I personally always like to have too much rather than too little. And the leftovers from this meal are just as good as the first serving.
You can serve Schweinebraten with many different sides or vegetables, especially if you throw other veggies into the roasting pan besides carrots, potatoes and onions (leeks, celery and other root vegetables are great options). Garlic and bay leaves can also go into the roasting pan with or instead of the cloves and juniper berries. It’s a matter of personal tastes or what you have on hand. One of the more traditional ways of serving Schweinebraten is with Blaukraut (red cabbage) and Semmelknödel (bread dumplings) as I mentioned above. Recipes for those will be coming in the following days…if I can keep myself from drooling all over the keyboard!
By the way, if you have leftovers of Schweinebraten but not enough sides, I recommend slicing two nice pieces off, covering them in gravy and heating them up. Then slap them on a nice hoagie roll or something similar. We made this a few days after and it was heaven!
*Note: The Puszta Feuer grill spice from Fuchs is pretty common here in Germany and I’d guess that there is something similar for chicken or pork steaks in the US too. It’s got red paprika, pepper, ground mustard seeds, onion powder, curry and other herbs in it.
Find more recipes loaded with meat on Hunk of Meat Mondays.