Sunday, February 6, 2011

German beer calls for Schweinebraten

The longer I go without a visit to Germany, the more I crave the food, which Seattle has been more than willing to accommodate lately with German-style pubs and restaurants in practically every neighborhood.

But with a new craft and import beer specialty store just down the street, now all I want to do is learn how to make the food myself so I can enjoy German grub for days and still down it with a gorgeous German beer.

With Wiener Schnitzel already under my belt, I decided this weekend to tackle Schweinebraten, a lovely pork roast that I've been craving ever since I ordered it in Leavenworth and got something completely different (although also quite tasty!).

I mixed a couple of recipes I had together then improvised when my veggies started turning black. Both recipes I was using called for roasting the pork shoulder at 450 degrees F, so I reduced the heat for more of a slow-and-low approach and it turned out juicy and flavorful.

1 T. kosher salt
2 T. caraway seeds
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
3- to 4-lb. pork shoulder
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 medium onions, quartered
4 large carrots, cut in bite-sized pieces
German dark beer

Mix salt, caraway seeds and black pepper in a small bowl. Rinse pork shoulder and pat dry, then rub salt mixture over all sides.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and heat bacon in a large skillet. Cook until beginning to crisp, about 12 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

Place the pork roast in the skillet, fat side down. Brown each side for about 5 minutes. Place in a 10-x-13-inch baking dish, fat side down, and surround with the onions and carrots, then sprinkle bacon all over everything. Add about 1/2 c. water to the dish, then put in the oven and cook for about 2 hours, or until a meat thermometer registers at 160 degrees F.

Check the roast periodically and add hot water if needed; turn it so the fat is facing up about halfway through. During the last half-hour of cooking, score the fat then pour about 1/2 to 1 c. dark beer over the fat to help it crisp up. Turn up the heat to 450 degrees F for the last half-hour.

When roast is done, let it set for 5 minutes before serving. Although my books say it's a sin to add any thickening agent to the gravy, I just couldn't help myself and I thickened it up with about 1/4 to 1/2 c. flour and the drippings that were still in the skillet after I drained the fat. I had to add about 1 c. water because the pan juices were so flavorful, so be sure you try it as you go.

I served mine with Kartoffelknoedel, a mushy yummy mass of potatoes that sops up gravy like a sponge. But I won't claim any credit for that one, since I used a box. After 10 years away from the real stuff, though, I couldn't even tell the difference.

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