Pork Knee (eisbein) is a classic German dish. In addition to being an inexpensive pork cut, it can be prepared in several ways: you can smoke it for a touch of flavor and moisture, roast it so the meat is crispy and brown, or cook it on the stove. Whatever the method of preparation, you are sure to make a delicious and inexpensive dish.
smoked pork knee
- 2, 5 kg of pig's knee.
- 8 cups of water.
- ¾ cup of salt.
- ¾ cup of brown sugar.
roasted pork knee
- Pork's knee.
- 2 tablespoons of spices of your choice.
Boiled Pork Knee
- Pork's knee.
- 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns.
- 1 to 2 sliced onions.
- 1 teaspoon of garlic.
- 2 or 3 celery stalks.
- 1 teaspoon of salt.
Method 1 of 3: Making Smoked Pig Knee
Step 1. Prepare a brine to make the pork knee moist and tasty
In a large bowl, mix 8 cups water, ¾ cup salt and ¾ cup brown sugar for every 2.5 kg of meat. Stir all ingredients with a spoon or whisk until sugar and salt dissolve.
To add flavor to the dish, add other seasonings or spices to the brine, such as 2 bay leaves or 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
Step 2. Place knee in brine
Put each piece in turn in the bowl with the brine. At this point, all the pieces must be submerged so that they absorb the brine flavor. Then cover the bowl.
If you only have small bowls at home, or if you don't have room to accommodate all the pig's knees in one container, it's okay to separate them into two or more bowls or put them in zip-lock plastic bags. Then just distribute the brine evenly between the containers and leave all the pieces of meat well covered before closing them
Step 3. Refrigerate meat for three to seven days
To give your knees enough time to soak up the spice, put them in the fridge for up to a week. Thus, the pieces do not dry out after smoking.
If you keep the pig's knees in zip-seal plastic bags, turn them over every day so that the brine is evenly distributed in all parts of the pieces
Step 4. Dry your knee on a rack in the refrigerator
Take the brine bowl out of the refrigerator, remove the pieces of meat from the brine and wash them quickly with cold water. Then place them on a rack on top of a baking sheet and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. This trick allows the pieces to better absorb the flavor when they are smoked.
It's best to place a napkin or a roasting pan under the grill so that the drippings of the brine or the meat itself don't get in the fridge
Step 5. Heat your smoking equipment to 100 °C
You can use a professional smoker, a smoking pot, or even a regular barbecue (if you know how to do it). Anyway, the temperature of the equipment needs to reach around 95 °C.
In the absence of all the above options, it is possible to transform the oven into an improvised smoker. Simply place moistened wood chips on a baking sheet on the grill under the oven. Cover this pan with aluminum foil, but not too close, to let a little smoke out the sides. Preheat oven to 95 °C as well
Step 6. Place the pig's knees in the smoker
Take the pieces out of the refrigerator and place them directly on the grill, pan, oven or smoker racks. The knees should be well distributed and apart, without touching each other. Close the grill lid and let the pig's knee start to cook.
Are you improvising with the oven? Place the meat directly on the oven rack that is just above the roasting pan with the wood chips
Step 7. Roast the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 65 °C
Let the pig's knees smoke for two to six hours. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the pieces every hour until they reach 65°C. After that, just take them off the equipment.
The time it takes your knees to bake properly varies greatly depending on the type of smoker you use. Therefore, it is important to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the pieces from time to time, thus preventing the eisbein from getting too dry
Step 8. Eat the dish right away or store it in the fridge or freezer to preserve the meat
When the pig's knees are done, you can consume them immediately, refrigerate them, or freeze them for up to a week.
Smoked pork knees are delicious in soups or with rice, beans and cabbage. However, if you prefer, you can also enjoy them without any accompaniment
Method 2 of 3: Making Roast Pork Knee
Step 1. Heat the oven to 180 °C
To make a crispy eisbein in the oven, you first need to preheat the equipment. Switch it on at a temperature of 180 °C. While the oven heats up, you can prepare the meat.
Step 2. Make cuts in the skin and fat layer of the pig's knees
With a sharp knife, make thin, transversal cuts in the upper layer of skin and fat of each piece, forming a kind of checkerboard. Avoid pressing the knife too hard, as the idea is not to cut the meat just under the skin and fat.
These superficial cuts allow the pig's knees to absorb the salt and seasoning, which adds flavor to the final dish
Step 3. Spend the spices of your choice on the outside of the pieces
Add a generous amount of salt, pepper, cumin, garlic or any other seasoning you like to the skin on the pork knees. Then pass the seasoning with your hands, working out the cuts you made of the layers of skin and fat.
- This step will help tenderize and add more flavor to the meat.
- The exact amount of seasoning depends on your personal taste and the size of each piece. In general, start with about 2 tablespoons of your favorite spice and, if necessary, add a little more.
Step 4. Place your knees on a large baking sheet with water
After seasoning as you like, place all the pieces on a large baking sheet, turning the part with the most meat face down. Distribute them with a space so they don't touch each other. Then place a finger of water on the bottom of the pan.
When it's time to add water, avoid pouring it over the pig's knees. Try to keep the skin and fat part dry, ensuring the meat is crispy as it roasts
Step 5. Add any other ingredients you want
When making the eisbein in the oven, you can reduce the time it takes to prepare the dish by roasting other ingredients with the meat or in another baking dish. Some examples that go with this meat are onions, potatoes and sliced apples.
When roasting vegetables or other ingredients together with the pork knees, the dish gains even more flavor
Step 6. Bake your knees in the oven for three to four hours
Place the roasting pan with the pieces of meat, water and other ingredients in the oven. Be careful not to let the water wet the surface of your knees. Let them bake for three to four hours or until they reach an internal temperature of 75°C.
If the knees are too small, it is good to check the internal temperature of the pieces after two hours in the oven
Step 7. Remove the eisbein from the oven when the meat is ready
When the pig's knees reach an internal temperature close to 75 °C, you can now turn off the oven. With gloves on, remove the pan. Wait a few minutes for the meat to cool slightly before serving.
- When the eisbein is done, the skin on the knees should be crispy and golden and the flesh should easily peel off the bone.
- To make a classic German meal, serve them with potatoes and sauerkraut.
Method 3 of 3: Making Boiled Pork Knee
Step 1. Fill a large pot with water
Choose a large pot that holds all the pieces you plan to cook. Then fill ¾ of your height with water, leaving a space until the lid so that the water doesn't overflow with the addition of the pig's knees or when it starts to boil.
For added flavor, use a vegetable or chicken stock instead of water, or use equal measures of stock and water
Step 2. Wash pig's knees with cold water
To ensure the meat is thoroughly clean before cooking, wash each piece with cold tap water. Thus, you are able to remove all impurities and reduce the fat residues that may be floating in the boiling water.
As the washed meat goes straight into the pan with water, it doesn't need to dry the pieces
Step 3. Place your washed knees in the pan
Carefully put them in the water, one by one, so that it doesn't overflow. All parts should be fully submerged and covered with about a finger of water.
If the water rises too high and gets very close to the edge, you may have to discard some in the sink
Step 4. Add spices and vegetables to add flavor
Do you want to refine the taste of the eisbein a little more while cooking? Then place the spices or vegetables of your choice in the boiling water. Add 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 or 2 chopped onions, 1 teaspoon garlic, 2 or 3 celery stalks and 1 teaspoon salt, for example.
Another possibility is to cook the pig's knees along with the other ingredients in the dish, such as beans or potatoes. To do this, just add the beans or potatoes to the pan before the boil starts
Step 5. Bring the water to a boil
After adding the pork pieces and other desired ingredients to the pan, turn the heat on high until the water boils.
Step 6. Let the pieces cook for two to four hours
When the water starts bubbling strongly, reduce the heat to low or medium. Thus, the water continues to boil, but without the risk of spilling. The exact cooking time may vary depending on the number of pieces, their size and the water temperature. So it's nice to start looking at the meat after two hours to make sure it doesn't overdo it.
You can leave the pan uncapped, but cover it if you want to speed up pork knee preparation. If you decide to cover the pan, check it every 30 minutes so the water doesn't boil too much and spill over the sides
Step 7. See if the meat is easily detaching from the bone
To find out if your knees are well cooked, take a piece of the boiling water. With a fork, try to pick up a small piece of meat: if it comes off the bone easily, it means the eisbein is ready, but if it's still a little hard to come off, sticking to the bone or a little hard, put the piece back in the pan and continue cooking for as long as necessary.
Step 8. Remove the pork knees from the pan
Once they are cooked, with the flesh soft and peeling off the bone, turn off the heat and carefully remove the pieces from the water using a large spoon. Place your knees to rest on a board or platter. Allow them to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving however you prefer.
- Use cooked eisbein in soups, stews, pasta or enjoy it with potatoes and a salad.
- If you're going to eat your knee alone and want to make the skin more crunchy, place the piece on a baking sheet in an oven at 230 °C for about 20 minutes.