"Eisbein" is a salt-cured pig knuckle which is simmered for several hours in broth and served with sauerkraut and pureed peas. It is a specialty in Berlin and is a favorite for tourists in restaurants. Because it is simmered, it is not crispy on the outside. Eisbein can be made at home with simple ingredients and great results.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Yield: Variable, 1 hock per person
- ***For Brining***
- 120 grams (1/2 c.) of kosher salt for each liter of water
- 12 grams (1 1/2 tsp.) pink salt or DQ Curing Salt per liter water
- 1000 milliliters of water (about 1 quart)
- Pig knuckles or hocks with rind or skin still attached
- ***For Cooking***
- Use any or all of these ingredients in the simmering broth
- Bay leaf
- Black Pepper
- Juniper berries
- Garlic cloves
Curing the Pork
If you can find fresh pig's knuckles you will want to cure them before eating. Salt curing them infuses the pork with salt and removes some of the water, concentrating the flavor of the meat. Try a local grocery store with on site butcher services or an ethnic grocery store and order ahead.
If you buy salt cured hocks or knuckles, skip ahead to the next section on cooking them.
To make the brine, use a 12% salt solution by weight. Dissolve 120 grams of kosher salt and 1.2 grams of pink salt per liter of water. Make enough to cover all your pork and chill the water thoroughly before continuing.
Use a non-reactive container to brine (cure) the pork. Plastic, including plastic zip lock bags will work as will any other glass or enamel pans. Place the pork in the container and add the brine to cover. Refrigerate.
Leave the pork in the brine 1 - 5 days in the refrigerator. The longer it sits in the brine, the saltier it will be. If it is in bags, turn over once or twice a day to redistribute the brine.
Cooking the Eisbein
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Rinse the cured pork under running water and place in the boiling water. Bring it back to a boil, remove the scum from the surface, and turn the heat to low.
Add the spices and vegetables for flavor. You can add about one teaspoon of each of the spices, one or two onions or carrots and 2 teaspoons of sugar per liter/quart of cooking water. You will not usually need salt, since the pork will salt the water.
Simmer the pork for 2 to 3 hours. When the rind starts separating from the meat, the pork knuckle is done.
You may choose to crisp the skin (rind) by placing under the broiler for 20 minutes or so, but don't cook it too long or the skin will be too tough to chew.
Some people make this without curing salt (pink salt). If you don't use curing salt, the pork will not turn pink (from a molecular interaction, not from the dye in the salt) and the taste will be slightly different. Do not brine a piece of meat for very long without pink salt, it keeps microbes from growing.
You can inject the pork with the brine using 1 inch spacing. Inject 20 - 25% of the weight of the meat in brine (around 8 ounces for every 2 pounds of meat). Cover with brine and cure for 2 days. Cook as directed above.