A German Pork Hock “Bake-Off”

A German Pork Hock is peasant food at it’s best–with big flavor, rich, fork tender meat and juicy crisp skin for a special entree.  

With fork tender meat and juicy crisp skin, this German Pork Hock recipe delivers a tasty dinner entree that's the best of the old country! 

I’d never baked a pork hock until recently.  But this unusual cut of meat and I go way back.  You see Milwaukee has a strong German heritage and in my youth, we celebrated many special events at a German restaurant–Karl Ratzch’s for local readers. 

One of my favorite dishes was a German Style Pork Hock, sometimes known as Schweinshaxe.  With its juicy, fork tender meat and crackly, crispy skin it was a rich and flavorful dinner–and a great comfort food.

I had never thought about cooking one until I ordered local pastured pork for my freezer.  As I phoned in my cutting instructions, the butcher asked, “do you want the hocks?”  With good memories and up for a challenge, I answered an enthusiastic, “YES!”  Now to find a recipe!  Pork Hock Meal leftovers outside dining

What is a Pork Hock?

If you didn’t grow up eating German food (or other international recipes), this may be the first time you’ve heard of pork hocks.  Also known as a pork knuckle or ham hock, it is the part of the pig that falls below the meaty ham and above the foot. 

An inexpensive and under-appreciated cut of meat, it will knock your socks off prepared correctly.  It’s hard to beat juicy fork tender meat and a crispy exterior.  With a lot of connective tissue and fat that melts into the meat, it does well slow roasted (or boiled) then crisped up at the end.

Alas, from the butcher’s question, I was guessing many people turned it into ground pork or sausage.  

Since I was a newbie, off I went to the internet where I found two different recipes which would give me two tries to get it right!

pork hoock

What Didn’t Work

I started with the easiest recipe.  Simply dry and salt the exterior then bake for a couple of hours at a combination of high and medium heat.  It sounded too good to be true.  But since this is more or less how I make my easy roast chicken (which works great) I decided to give it a try. 

In the end, however, the meat wasn’t that tender and the exterior wasn’t that crisp.  Yup, this is why I’m sometimes wary of taking the easy route.   

With fork tender meat and juicy crisp skin, this German Pork Hock recipe delivers a tasty dinner entree that's the best of the old country! But read on for what did work!

What You’ll Need

Ingredients

  • Leek, celery, carrot, onion. These add flavor to the boiling liquid which helps flavor the meat. 
  • Salt, peppercorns.  More flavor!
  • Pork Hock.

Special Tools

  • A large stock pot will be needed.

Step by Step Directions

My second attempt came from the website Quick German Recipes.  It involved pre-boiling with vegetables then baking at a high temperature.  

And the result?   A lovely combination of crisp exterior and tender meat, just like I remembered.  Although this recipes involves a lot of cooking time, there is actually very little working time. 

You start by boiling the pork hock in water with a variety of chopped vegetables.  Drain when tender and reserve the boiling liquid and vegetables.

boil hock

Place the now tender hock on top oof the vegetables and a little cooking liquid and bake until crisp. roast hock

Serve!

With fork tender meat and juicy crisp skin, this German Pork Hock recipe delivers a tasty dinner entree that's the best of the old country! 

Yup, that’s it! 

What Else Should I Serve?

I always love some type of cabbage with a pork dish, especially one with a German flair.  Opening a can of sauerkraut is an easy answer or my Scandinavian Red Cabbage is a delicious homemade option!  And Parsley Boiled Potatoes or Homemade German Spaetzles can round out the menu!

And of course a cold Bavarian Lager would finish things off perfectly!

Yes, with Oktoberfest coming up, isn’t a German Style, Crispy Pork Hock dinner a fine way to celebrate? 

Almost empty serving plate

Notes and Tips

For easier “day of” prep, I sometimes boil it the day before, refrigerate overnight and finish cooking the next day.

Many times a German Style Pork Hock is served with a gravy, though I often skip that. I am after the crispness!

If you would like a gravy you can do the following.  Make a roux with 2 Tablespoons butter or pork fat and 2 Tablespoons flour in a small saucepan. Cook for a few minutes, then slowly add 1 cup of the boiling liquid and stir until thickened.  

Any leftover cooking liquid can be used as a tasty stock, so I freeze it for future soups and other recipes needing broth. 

 

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German Style Pork Hock

German Style Pork Hock

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes

With fork tender meat and juicy crisp skin, this German Pock Hock recipe delivers a tasty dinner entree that's the best of the old country! 

Ingredients

  • 1 leek, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 pounds meaty pork hock

Instructions

  1. Put ingredients (vegetables, salt, peppercorns, and pork hock) into stock pot or Dutch Oven and add water to cover. Bring to boil, then simmer until meat is just tender - about 2 hours. Do not overcook.
  2. When tender, drain, reserving the vegetables and cooking liquid.
  3. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  4. Place drained vegetables and a small amount of the cooking liquid in a roasting pan and set the pork hock on top. (Remaining cooking liquid can be saved for later use or discarded)
  5. Bake about 30 minutes, occasionally basting meat with cooking liquid, until golden.

Notes

If you would like a gravy you can do the following.  Make a roux with 2 Tablespoons butter or pork fat and 2 Tablespoons flour in a small saucepan. Cook for a few minutes, then slowly add 1 cup of the boiling liquid and stir until thickened.  

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 432Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 150mgSodium: 644mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 46g

Nutrition data accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.

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24 thoughts on “A German Pork Hock “Bake-Off”

  1. Phillip

    Hi Inger,
    Where do you buy your 1.5# pork hocks? Are these hocks from the fore-leg or rear leg?

    thank you, Phil

    1. Inger Post author

      I get a half hog from a local farmer every year and have it custom butchered. They ask if I want hocks and I always say “yes.” I think they must take the hocks off of the front and the back legs because I get two from my half. Though I know they’ll sometimes distribute the less wanted parts to whoever does want them (having received like 6 packages of liver more than once).

      I would suggest perhaps talking to a country butcher to source these for yourself.

  2. Louise

    Well you sure did put those hocks to the test Inger! I’m liking the second version too. My grandmother use to make hocks Italian style but I’ll be darned if I can remember how. I almost think it involved pickling? Save that bone this year, it will make a GREAT soup bone!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing, Inger…You sure were up to the challenge!

    1. Inger Post author

      Thanks Louise. I thought of you as I made this. You’d need to scrape off the crispy exterior on your new diet, but I’m sure the inside would be good alone too (and the soup…)

    1. Inger Post author

      I was hoping the easy version would win Beth 😉 But in the end, the other wasn’t that hard, and I’m happy to have a new dish we like!

    1. Inger Post author

      Thanks Kathy. Now that the temperatures are really dropping, it sure does feel like October!

    1. Inger Post author

      I was a little unsure in some of the intermediate pictures 😉 I kept thinking it was a good thing my kids didn’t see it at that point!

  3. Choc Chip Uru

    Great idea for a hock-off, seems like that last one was really a winner of a recipe! And YAY Oktoberfest celebrations coming up 😀

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    1. Inger Post author

      I wish I’d thought of that–the bone is gone now. But there is another pork hock coming with this year’s order! Thanks for the suggestion!

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