German Pork Knuckle

German Pork Knuckle - a beer hall staple in Berlin

July 19, 2019

While in Germany, my mind tends to focus on only 3 things: Beer, bratwurst, and the German pork knuckle. And tonight, I am going to seek out two of the three!

Pork knuckles are not only popular in Oktoberfest as some might believe. They are also beer hall fixtures in cities like Munich or Berlin. I am now in a lively and packed beer hall in the Gendarmenmarkt area called Augustiner. I am ordering a liter of beer as I get ready to dissect the World-famous German pork knuckle.

Why are pork knuckles so good? Well, firstly, despite of its name, it is actually the meaty part of a pig’s leg, so there is plenty of meat, and usually enough to share between two people. A better term (from the butcher’s sense) for the knuckle might be pork shank or pork hock.

The German pork knuckle is so good because the meat is covered by a thick layer of skin and fats. Therefore, after slow roasting it for hours until the skin becomes crispy and crackling, the meat remains moist, juicy, and tender. In a way, the skin is like that of a Chinese roasted suckling pig.

Note that in some regions and restaurants in Germany, the pork knuckle is fried instead of roasted.

German pork knuckles usually come with bier (beer) gravy and there are variations of it. Some restaurants serve them with a rich and thick gravy made with dark beer. Another version uses a lighter blonde beer. One particular rendition enhances the flavor with a touch of tomato sauce.

Eating a German pork knuckle is easy! Use the knife to make one long vertical cut deep enough to cut through the skin and all the fats. Then just reach for the meat! The meat should fall off the bone easily and it should be quite effortless to pull them out with just a fork.

Enjoy it with a glass of Riesling or a strong Pilsner beer.

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