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.
Schweinebraten (Pork Roast) with Gravy and Vegetables
- 500 grams (about 1 pound) carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 – 3/4-inch slices
- 1 kilo (2.5 pounds) potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes 1/2 – 3/4-inch cubes
- 3 small onions, peeled and cut into 1/2 – 3/4-inch chunks
- 3-4 kilo pork roast from the neck (Schweinebraten/Krustebraten)
- 4 mini-racks of pork ribs with bones, 2-3 ribs (for the sauce)
- Oil to braise, 1-2 tablespoons
- Grill spice (Fuchs Puszta Feuer Würz Zauber*)
- Handful of Cloves
- Handful of Juniper berries (Wacholderbeeren)
- 2 cups (500ml) vegetable stock (Gemüsebrühe)
- 1/2 dark Weissbier (You can use a regular Weissbier but use less because the flavor is not so sweet.)
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
Score the skin of the Schweinebraten, but not the fat in even 1 inch wide sections. Cut perpendicular to the roast, first in one direction and then the other. Push the skin and fat back into place as you cut because it will pull apart as you cut and then you’ll up with uneven scores and will also likely slice the meat.
Rub down the roast with grill spice, covering all sides as well.
Stick a handful of cloves across the top of the roast where crosses are formed by your cuts. The cloves should stick down into the fat and meat so you may need to poke further into the roast with a knife if you have not sliced through thick fat areas.
Pour oil into a large oven-safe roasting pan. Heat on the stove to high heat. Once the oil is hot, sear the roast on all sides for a minute or so, just until the meat is no longer pink. This will hold in the moisture of the roast.
Set aside roast and add carrots, potatoes and onions to the roasting pan, covering the bottom of the pan with them. Add vegetable stock. Place one mini-rack of ribs in each corner. Place the roast back into the roasting pan, on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle juniper berries over the top.
Bake in oven for 2 – 2.5 hours or until the skin on top is crunchy and crispy. While cooking, use liquids from the roasting pan to baste the roast every 20-30 minutes. If you have hardly any liquid left after the first 30 minutes, add 1 cup (250ml) water.
After it has been cooking about 1 hour, add 1/4 of the Weissbier, pouring it over the top of the roast. Then baste again after 30 minutes with drippings from the pan.
An hour after the first shot of Weissbier, add the other 1/4 over the top of the roast.
Once the skin has become crunchy, turn on the broiler and broil the roast until the top pops. Remove from oven.
For gravy, drain all the liquid from the roasting pan and put it in a saucepan. Put the roast back into the roasting pan and into the oven until you are ready to serve it.
Add cornstarch to the saucepan and cook at medium heat until the sauce begins to thicken, about 15-20 minutes. If the sauce refuses to thicken, mash up a few of the roasted potato cubes and add those to the saucepan. Season to taste with salt, pepper and powdered vegetable stock.
Remove the Schweinebraten from the oven again and place on a cutting board. Cut into 3/4 – 1 inch thick slices.
Serve warm with gravy, dumplings, red cabbage and roasted potatoes. FEAST!
Note: Find more Mouthwatering Monday’s recipes on A Southern Fairytale.26