Munich, pork hocks and German beer – one of those holy trinity combinations of place, pork and pint. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. Just picture sitting at one of the window tables of the Paulaner restaurant in Munich in the dead of winter, the snow is falling outside as a waitress places an enormous stein of Munich Hell in front of you. It’s not your first for the day (and will definitely not be your last). Moments later a large tray laden with tender pork, red and white sauerkraut and potato salad fills your peripheral vision and comes to a thumping stop in the middle of the table. Nothing is said for a few moments as everybody takes in the spectacle, then the smiles start and the approving glances. The feasting ensues.
More rounds of Hell hit the table. The steins appear to keep getting bigger and more frequent… not a problem.
This is not the scenario that caused me to fall for the humble hock, but it sure as hell didn’t hurt. Maybe it was the mesmerising walls of spinning, roasting hocks in the windows of Munich’s restaurants. Whatever it was I’m certainly a huge fan.
The hock is part of the pig’s leg, the first joint above the foot. It has a lot of connective tissue in it so it requires very long slow cooking to get the most out of it. I prefer a slow braise to get the meat tender, then roasting to crackle up the skin. The following recipe includes cloves which gives the dish a bit of a Christmassy feel but you can swap them out for any flavour you prefer – fennel is a nice addition and matches perfectly with pork.
German wheat, Munich Hell
Pork hock in beer. Serves 2 (hungry people)
2 pork hocks
1 brown onion, quartered
½ bunch parsley, roughly chopped
4 sprigs thyme
1 head garlic, cut in half
12 black peppercorns
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 × 500ml bottle German wheat beer
In a heavy based saucepan, add all the ingredients and cover with the beer, top up with water if needed.
Over a high heat bring to the boil, reduce heat to the lowest setting, cover and simmer for 3 hours. Turn the heat off and allow the hocks to cool in the liquid.
Pre-heat oven to 180ºC.
Remove the hocks from the cold liquid and pat dry with kitchen towel.
Rub with a little olive oil and season well. Bake for 45 minutes or until nicely browned and the skin is nice and crunchy.
Remove from the oven and serve with saurkraut, home made potato salad, and a few litres of German beer (and then a few more).