Sounding more like a tongue twister than a taste bud teaser, Schweinshaxe is one of the most favoured menu items throughout Bavaria, and indeed nowadays, most of Germany.
This tender slow-roasted piece of meat is found as a staple in so many restaurants about Munich, one often wonders if it’s actually the Bavarian State Dish.
Who invented Schweinshaxe? The Origins of the Pork Knuckle!
Peasant farmers invented the Schweinshaxe as historically, this now nationally celebrated roast meat, was eaten only by the poorest parts of the community. So rather than being invented by a person, the Schweinshaxe origin was actually a cooking evolution of a people.
What is Schweinshaxe Made of?
Schweinshaxe is a cooked meat made from a cut of pork.
Pigs are considered lucky in Germany and are a symbol of wealth and prosperity. Likely this is one of the reasons why Bavarians prefer roasting pig joints over beef joints.
In all honesty, it’s probably not the reason, we’re not really sure of that, but after all, what better way to consume luck than to physically eat it!
What Part of the Pig is Schweinshaxe? What are Pig Knuckles?
The Schweinshaxe is a part of the pork leg located above the ankle but below the meaty ham part of the leg.
In actuality, it is the meat that surrounds the animals bone between the tibia and fibula so that makes it a part of the shank section of the leg.
This part of the animal has been translated as the pork knee or even the pork hand in some languages, but it will always be pork knuckle in German – which is the Schweinshaxe.
How to Prepare Schweinshaxe?
Schweinshaxe ingredients are simple, grab a knuckle of pork and rub it with spices, then cook it.
The most common way of cooking Schweinshaxe is to rub salt and spices (such as ground caraway seeds) into the joint, throw it into a roasting pan, and then slow cook until your German Pork Hock is tender and falls off the bone, all under an outer crispy skin (crackling).
There are different names for different ways of cooking the Schweinshaxe, such as in the north of Germany where it’s pickled and boiled and referred to as Eisbein (Ice Bone).
In many places, there can also be found a smoked Schweinshaxe variety but without doubt, it is the slow cooked pork knuckle with crackling recipe that is the favourite style to prepare pigs knuckles.
How Long Does it Take to Roast Schweinshaxe?
All chefs have their own thoughts on pork joint cooking times.
Optimally, and depending on the quality of the oven of course, between 3 to 4 hours would be the recommended roasting time of a Schweinshaxe.
You have to take into account the size of the pork knuckle of course, which is why the variation in time can be so great.
Roast in a hot oven to start to ensure a crispy crackling, then turn the heat down to finish the slow roasting process.
How Do You Eat Schweinshaxe?
Don’t pretend this is any type of fine dining cuisine, just grab a sharp knife and fork and attack!
If cooked correctly the crispy skin crackling will take the most effort to get through but then you’ll be rewarded with the soft juicy meat that should simply fall away from the bone.
Is picking up the bone and munching on it from hand to teeth permitted? It seems plenty of people believe so!
What Does Schweinshaxe Taste Like?
A Schweinshaxe is very flavourful and aromatic, and, if cooked correctly, an extremely succulent and tender piece of meat.
Whilst the pork flavour is strong it’s certainly not overpowering and it actually tastes more gamey (if that’s a word), rather than porky (that’s definitely not a word).
The crackling is, as you would expect, is salty and crispy.
When consumed as a meal with side dishes, a Schweinshaxe can be orgasmic to the taste buds. Assuming you like meat of course!
What is Schweinshaxe Served With?
Traditionally, a Haxn is served with potato.
The type of potato dish would be up to the individual establishments but outdoor beer gardens, more often than not, serve them up with potato salad (Kartoffelsalat), whilst indoor eateries might offer potato dumplings or mashed potato.
Sauerkraut or red cabbage is usually also offered as a side to Schweinshaxe, and there is generally beer gravy and mustard (senf) as well to compliment the flavours.
Are Schweinshaxe Healthy?
How healthy is any piece of animal protein that you eat?
Like anything you consume, you should do so with moderation and Schweinshaxe can certainly be part of a healthy balanced diet.
Schweinshaxe calories is not something that any weight-conscious diners would really think about as, aside from the crackling, it is a low calorie meat.
What is the Schweinshaxe Pronunciation?
To pronounce Schweinshaxe phonetically, it gets broken down into four separate syllables as follows; Sh-Vine-Haks-Eh.
So just say it quickly in any restaurant and you’ll be understood.
Other Names for Schweinshaxe: German Pork Knuckle Anyone?
These roasted pork knuckles are also known in Bavaria as Schweinshaxn, Sauhax or most commonly simply as Haxn.
In Austria Schweinshaxe is called Stelze, in France it’s known as Wädele, in Hungary you’d call it sörben sült csülök, and in Luxembourg, Héiss.
In English, most people just refer to Schweinshaxe as a Pork Knuckle or a roasted pork hock or ham hock.
Amazing Schweinshaxe Recipes
Far be it for us to presume we’re professional chefs, especially when there are so many more capable people (and blogs) out there offering up awesome Schweinshaxe recipes.
Here we list a few so you can have a look at them yourself and make a decision as to which is your favoured pork knuckle recipe, but you can trust us when we say – they’re ALL good!
- Roasted Pork Shank recipe from All Tastes German
- Grilled Schweinshaxe (Pork Knuckle) recipe from Blue Rhino
- Crispy Pork Knuckle with Saute Potatoes (Eisbein) recipe from Foodle Club
- Barbecued Pork Hock (Schweinshaxe) recipe from What Dad Cooked
Don’t forget an accompanying cold German Beer and maybe try a bit of Senf (mustard) with your Schweinshaxe as well. Yummo!
Cripsy Pork Knuckle Cooking Guide
This quick Schweinshaxe cooking guide from the RecipeTinEats channel on YouTube, is one of the best we’ve ever seen.
Getting that perfect crackling on your roasted Schweinshaxe is definitely the most challenging part of the cook, and it looks like Nagi from recipetineats.com has cracked the crackling code!
We tested this method of perfect crackling creation and we can confirm, the Schweinshaxe was amazing with one of the crispiest and most delicious cracklings ever!
Bavarian Food Explained – The Schweinshaxe!
This certainly won’t be our final word on Bavarian Food posted on this blog you can be sure of that,
There are many more different and exciting aspects of Bavarian Cuisine that need further investigation and we only began our topic investigation with this article on the well-known knuckle of pork.
We will, however, be writing much more on this topic over the coming months including articles on Green Eating and Sustainable and Socially aware Dining here in Munich.
Thanks for reading all about Schweinshaxe, and look out for the upcoming exposes on Weiβwurst, Leberkäse, Spaetzle, Leberknödelsuppe, Steckerlfisch Semmelknoedel, Dampfnudel and much more.
Enjoy – Viel Spaß