German Pub Fare
These are the crispy beer hall pork shanks that I have loved all over Austria, Germany and Eastern Europe. One night I went to the Augustiner beer hall with some friends for dinner and left there bound and determined to re-create this dish at home. It’s brined, cooked in fat and then quickly crisped in the same lard. It’s decadent. This is food for cold weather that’s meant to be shared with friends. Be sure to serve the shanks with plenty of red cabbage and good mustard, and go for a long walk after dinner.
Bavarian Beer Hall Pork Shanks
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup pickling spices
- 4 dried chiles, such as chiles de árbol, lightly crushed
- 4 pork shanks (about 1 1/2-pounds each), scored in a crosshatch pattern (see Note)
- 3 pounds pure lard
- 1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
- 1 handful of mixed thyme and rosemary sprigs
In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, combine the apple cider with the brown sugar, salt, pickling spices and chiles; stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the pork shanks to the pot and rub in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight, but no more than 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 250°. Remove the shanks from the brine and rinse well. Clean and dry the casserole. Melt the lard in the casserole over moderate heat until it reaches 250°. Arrange the shanks in the lard so they are completely submerged. Nestle the garlic in the lard along with the thyme and rosemary. Transfer the casserole to the oven and cook the shanks for 3 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Remove from the oven and let the shanks cool in the lard for about 15 minutes.
Transfer the shanks to a rack set over a baking sheet. Strain the lard through a fine sieve; clean and dry the casserole.
Return the lard to the casserole and heat it to 350°. Fry the pork shanks 2 at a time over high heat until very crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the shanks to paper towels to drain before serving.
MAKE AHEAD The shanks can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated for 5 days.
NOTES Pork shanks are available at some supermarkets and from dartagnan.com.
SERVE WITH Sweet and sour red cabbage, or sauerkraut, applesauce and dark mustard.
Originally published in Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures on foodandwine.com.
Photograph by Madeleine Hill.