Bavarian Pork Knuckles

Bavarian Pork Knuckles

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  • 1 small leek
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, bacon or duck fat
  • 2-3 Pounds pork knuckles
  • 1 Teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 Teaspoon cumin
  • 1 Cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter



Dice your leek, celery, carrot and onion. Set aside in a bowl. Heat a stock pot over medium heat. Add fat and let heat for 1 minutes. Add pork knuckles and saute for about 3 minutes. Add in vegetables, salt, peppercorns, cumin and broth/water. Cover and heat on low for 2 1/2 hours or until tender (or put in oven at 275 degrees F for 2 hours). Remove pork from pot and set aside. Remove vegetables by using a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon butter and increase the heat to medium. Once begins to boil add 1 teaspoon arrowroot flour and whisk into liquid. Let thicken into a gravy. Add pork and vegetables back into the pan. Taste for any additional seasonings.

Nutritional Facts


Calories Per Serving471

Folate equivalent (total)20µg5%

Bavarian Pork Knuckles - Recipes

A pork knuckle is one of the most traditional German dishes. Basically, there are two ways to prepare a pork knuckle: One is the method that I show you here in my Youtube video: It is the southern German way to cook a pork knuckle. The meat is spiced only slightly, essentially with salt, pepper and cumin and then baked in the oven.

The special thing about this type of pork knuckle is the crust. Towards the end of the baking time, you start the grill in the oven and give high heat from above on the rind. This ensures that the rind intensively cooks, bubbles and becomes very crisp. But beware: If you do that, you should stay near the stove. Often a few moments decide between a perfect result and a burnt disaster.

I personally love this way of eating a pork knuckle. The crust is really great fun. It's also a great dish to eat with dumplings. It goes both potato dumplings and bread dumplings. For both dumplings you will find recipes on my youtube channel. (Just click on the words here in the text and you're there.) But my personal favorite is bread dumplings.

And here comes the recipe:

4 pig shanks, each about 800 grams / 28 oz

Cut the knuckles lenghtwise then rub them with the caraway and salt and pepper generously

Put everything into a baking dish, add the broth and the beer and put it into the oven.

Leav it there for two hours at 120 degrees Celsius (250 farenheit) circulating air.

Then you switch on the grill/broiler and double the temperature.

The knuckle is getting it´s crust now. Don´t leave it alone in this phase because it will burn easily.

At the end you take it out of the oven, let the meat rest for a while and prepare the sauce:
Let it boil in a pot, season it - it might need a little sweetness to be perfect and, if you like, you can add a little cold butter or starch.

Eat it with dumplings and some vegetables. I like it with red cabbage or with savoy cabbage.
I will show you how to prepare both on my channel.


Schweinshaxe is an iconic dish from the region of Bavaria in Germany. Its name is sometimes different and it is also sometimes called Sauhax or Schweinshaxn.

This is roasted pork knuckle flavored with beer and herbs. In other parts of Germany, this cut of the pork may also be referred to as Eisbein, Hachse, Hechse, Haxe, Haspel, Hämmche, Bötel or Stelze. In Bavarian, people call it Knöchla.

This piece is consumed in neighboring countries such as Luxembourg (Héiss) or Alsace in France (Wädele). In butchery, the knuckle defines the piece of meat that surrounds the animal’s tibia. In Italy, this part (for the veal) is called osso buco.

What is the origin of Schweinshaxe?

The consumption of pork knuckle is very old and popular in Germany and there are many cooking methods. It can be poached with herbs or roasted for a long time in the oven.

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Consuming pork knuckle is so popular in Germany that there is even a ham hock (Eisbein) club.

In Germany, Schweinshaxe is considered Arme-Leute-Essen, i.e. a poor man’s food based on a less noble part of the animal. These pieces are often tedious to present and less presentable.

How to make Schweinshaxe

The pork knuckle should be flamed with a blowtorch before cooking because it usually has some residual hair. It is also best to blanch it in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes to get rid of its impurities.

Thus prepared, the skin can easily be cut by making crosses. This step helps to better diffuse the flavor of the spices in the meat and also to make the skin crispier. The meat is then rubbed with a mixture of onions, garlic, cumin seeds and peppercorns. The meat is generously salted, it can also be brined as is the case in Austria.

Then, blond or dark beer, Bavarian if possible, as well as broth, are added. The dish can then be placed for more than two hours in an oven preheated to 250 F (120°C). It is imperative to baste the pork knuckle with the sauce throughout cooking to keep it very tender.

After this time, increase the oven temperature to 450 F (230°C) and roast the meat for about 15 minutes until it becomes very crisp. Cooked in this way, the meat should be set aside in aluminum foil to stay hot, time for it to rest and reduce the sauce to a nice consistency.

The pork knuckle can then be served in a hot dish and accompanied by rotkraut, red cabbage sauerkraut or sauerkraut (white cabbage). You can also add knödel or semmelknödel, bread dumplings, or even kartoffelknödel, potatoes. It can also accompany a coleslaw or potato salad.

What are the variants?

In Berlin, the pork knuckle is typically not roasted, and rather served with mashed peas (Erbspüree). In Alsace, it’s with sauerkraut, red cabbage or knödel. It is also one of the basic ingredients of the famous Alsatian sauerkraut.

Pork knuckle has also spread throughout eastern France where it is eaten with lentils.

This piece is also very popular in China where it is cooked with soy sauce and cooked for a long time until it becomes very tender.

This recipe is validated by our culinary expert in German cuisine, Nadia Hassani. Nadia is the author of the Spoonfuls of Germany blog and the Spoonfuls of Germany cookbook. Read more about Nadia in her exclusive interview.

How to make crispy German pork knuckles?

The recipe is super simple, but it requires three different steps of cooking: boil, roast, broil! But except moving the hocks from one pot to another and turning on the oven and the broiler, there is not very much you have to do.

Step 1: Boil

  • Place the meat pieces, all the vegetables, and all the spices, except the salt, in a large pot.
  • Cover completely with water. Bring to a boil. (1)
  • Add the salt now, lower the heat.
  • Simmer very gently for 1 hour and 30 minutes. The broth should not boil, just simmer very very slowly. (2)

Step 2: Roast

  • Before the time is up, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Carefully lift the meat pieces from the pot and place them in a roasting tin. Reserve the broth.
  • Pour ½ of the beer over the hocks and about 1 cup of the broth into the roasting tin.
  • Sprinkle the meat with salt generously.
  • Roast for 30 minutes.
  • Turn on the other side, pour the remaining beer on top and sprinkle with salt again.
  • Roast for another 30 minutes or until the meat is very tender.

Step 3: Broil

  • Turn on the broiler. Broil the meat for as long as it takes to make the skin golden crispy.
  • Turn it frequently to make sure it crisps on all sides.
  • Don&rsquot leave it unattended, the crackling should not turn dark.

Berliner Eisbein (Simmered Pig Knuckles)

Eisbein is a salt-cured pig knuckle that is simmered for several hours in broth and then served with ​sauerkraut and puréed peas or potatoes. It is a specialty in Berlin and is a favorite for locals and tourists. With our recipe, you can enjoy this succulent pork dish at home with some easy-to-find ingredients and a little patience. Even though it's time consuming, don't miss out on the chance to make this spectacular dish.

When looking for the right pork cut to make eisbein, you're buying the part of the pig's leg that's neither the ham nor the ankle, but the cut in between, known in butchery as the knuckle. This stubby piece of meat is covered in a generous layer of fat, and although it doesn't have a lot of meat, it has enough to make for one happy customer. Plus, the crunchy skin compensates for the lack of meat itself.

If you find fresh pig knuckles, they must be cured with a combination of kosher salt and pink curing salt before eating. Salt-curing them infuses the meat with salt and removes some of the moisture, concentrating the flavor of the meat. A specialty grocery store with on-site butcher services or a German store might have fresh knuckles, otherwise use already salt-cured knuckles, skipping ahead to the cooking steps in our method.

What is Pork Knuckle?

If you’ve been to Germany, Austria or pretty much anywhere in that general area of the world, you’ve seen pork knuckle (or Scheinshaxe) on the menu. The image above was taken in Austria. And the image below was taken in Munich.

The knuckle itself always looks a bit different, depending on how much skin is left on and how it was cut, but it always turns out to be a tender piece of meat nestled under crispy skin. And almost always served with potato dumplings on the side!

I can’t pass up pork knuckle when I see it, especially during Oktoberfest in Munich.

The pork knuckle is located at the end of the leg, before it becomes the ankle. It contains a lot of connective tissue and collagen, which adds all the wonderful flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture when the meat has been slow roasted.

It can be a bit difficult to find pork knuckle in the grocery store, so you most likely will have to ask for it from the butcher.

If you don’t have a specialty butcher nearby, try asking at the grocery meat counter to see if they ever stock it, or know where you can get it. Be sure to look for it under different names like ham hock and pork hock.

Pork Knuckles or Hocks: An Unconventional International Delight

The humble pork knuckle is considered by many as a throw-away part of the pork carcass. Graeme Wood prefaces “Pork Knuckle, German Delight”, his article on pork knuckles, with the statement that, “Even good butcher shops need to special-order pork knuckle. When they do, they expect that their customers will use it for ethnic stews–generally Asian, such as certain braised pork dishes in China, or pata (“paw”), a Philippine delicacy…

“To most American consumers, even the name “pork knuckle” is uninviting, summoning the image and texture of knobby, stringy joints…”

How Germans Transform Pig’s Knuckles

Wood changes his tune quickly, though, when he talks about how the Bavarians cook their pigs’ knuckles or schweinshaxe. He recounts his encounter with the transformed version of this frequently ignored cut of meat: “In Bavaria earlier this month, I visited nearly a dozen breweries, most of which serve pork knuckle, boiled and then baked, with pride. To call it a specialty is perhaps to flatter their menu, which typically offers nothing but pork knuckle, sausages, and platters of cheese and meat. Pork knuckle is not a delicate cut: it is a fatty football of meat and tendon, and its sawed-off protruding leg bone gives it a look of Teutonic barbarity, appropriate for consumption in a restaurant lit by torches and staffed by waiters smeared with woad. But in the context of Bavarian breweries, the pork knuckle’s indelicacy is perfect, because beers are brewed for maximum flavor, unfiltered and unpasteurized, so that each sip is a meal on the tongue. Any flavor more dainty than a chunk of sizzling pork, with a pad of browned fat and skin, would be lost in the rich flow of beer…”

The German way of preparing pig’s knuckles is to roast it till the skin is crackling crisp and the meat is fork tender. In “Bavarian Ham Hock”, Gabriele Utz shares her recipe for crispy schweinshaxe. She first cooks the hock in the oven with cut up vegetables, vegetable broth, and beer. Once the meat is soft, it is drained and grilled till crispy. The vegetables and the beer flavored broth are strained to make a sauce this is traditionally served with sauerkraut or cabbage salad and Bavarian dumplings.

Other Versions of Delicious Pig’s Knuckles

In “Hardcore Chinese – Mom’s Best Braised Pork Feet”, the author, who is known simply as Maggie, shares her family’s pig’s knuckles recipe. Her recipe calls for pork knuckles (sliced into six pieces) and braised till soft in a broth made of ginger, sugar, soy sauce, chili, anise, and Shaoxing wine.

Filipinos also have their way of cooking pig’s knuckles. These are either braised till soft in a broth similar to what Chinese cooks prepare, or these are boiled till soft, allowed to rest till dry, and then deep fried. This dish, called Crispy Pata, is a Filipino favorite. In the southern part of the United States, ham hocks are traditionally cooked with collard greens and served with corn bread. In other parts of the country, smoked ham hocks are considered an excellent ingredient for savory soups.

Matching Pig’s Knuckles with the Perfect Drink

The Bavarian version of pig’s knuckles is perfectly matched with beer. Graeme Wood’s preference is for a good ungespundet lager. Likewise, for most Filipinos, beer is the preferred drink when they indulge in this fatty delight.

Pork hocks or pig’s knuckles are not considered glamorous food, but cooked the right way, they can be thoroughly sinful and finger lickin’ good.

Pork Knuckle with Sauerkraut

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Serves: 6, or 4 with healthy Teutonic appetites

  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes or 1 teaspoon pouring salt
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 pork knuckles / hocks, their rind scored
  • 2 onions
  • 2 eating apples (cored and quartered)
  • 4 baking potatoes or just under 1kg / 2lb other main crop potatoes (cut into quarters lengthwise)
  • 1 x 500 millilitres bottle good amber or dark beer (not stout)
  • 500 millilitres boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon pouring salt
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 pork knuckles / hocks, their rind scored
  • 2 onions
  • 2 eating apples (cored and quartered)
  • 4 baking potatoes or just under 1kg / 2lb other main crop potatoes (cut into quarters lengthwise)
  • 2 cups bottle good amber or dark lager (not stout)
  • 2 cups boiling water

How to cook a pork knuckle

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Extra salt and pepper (to season)

Roughly chop one carrot and one onion and put them into a large stock pot along with two bay leaves. Add water to the stock pot until three-quarters full and bring to the boil.

When the water is boiling, add a generous sprinkling of salt and carefully lower in the pork knuckles. Make sure the knuckles are fully immersed in the water. Top up with a little water if necessary. Return water to the boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer.

Simmer pork knuckles until meat is tender. This will take between 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the size of the pork knuckles. To check if they are cooked, insert a large meat fork into the meatiest part of the knuckle. The knuckle should slide off the fork without any resistance. Remove knuckles from pan and leave to cool slightly. Reserve stock.

When knuckles are cool enough to handle, pat them dry and sprinkle the skin with salt until well covered. Shake off excess salt.

Roughly chop remaining onion and carrot and place in the bottom of a large roasting tin, with 2 bay leaves.

Place a wire baking rack over the vegetables inside the roasting tin and sit the pork knuckles on top of the rack.

Pour reserved stock into the roasting tray, the liquid should not touch the wire rack or the underside of will not get crispy.

Carefully place the roasting tray into the pre-heated oven and roast for 1 - 1.5 hours, or until golden in colour. Baste with juices from the pan after half an hour, then baste twice more at 5-10 minute intervals. Check for a reading above 75C with a meat thermometer.

Raise oven temperature to 230C - 250C for a further 5-10 minutes to crisp up the knuckle skin until it turns deep golden brown in colour.

Take the knuckles out of the oven and rest for five minutes.

To make bier jus, strain liquid from roasting tray into a saucepan, add the beer and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer slowly for 5-10 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Thicken more some of the corn starch, if necessary.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the knuckles with bier jus, sauerkraut and mashed potato.

Lowenbrau Keller's bier professor Dominic Dighton recommends using Hofbräu Dunkel in this dish, which is available at selected independent bottle shops in Sydney and Melbourne.

*Note: If you want to brine the knuckles yourself, ask your butcher for fresh pork knuckles and submerge them in a brining solution comprising 3 litres of water and 60 grams of salt. Leave the knuckles in the brining solution for at least a week.


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