Berliner Eisbein -- Recipe for Simmered Pig Knuckles

Eisbein Eisbein mit Sauerkraut from Gaststaette Stralsunder in Rostock
Flickr user Vincci Tsui
Ratings (18)
  • Total: 3 hrs 40 mins
  • Prep: 40 mins
  • Cook: 3 hrs
  • Brine: 24 hrs
  • Yield: 1 hock or pig knuckle per person

"Eisbein" is a salt-cured pig knuckle that is simmered for several hours in broth and then served with ​sauerkraut and pureed peas. It is a specialty in Berlin and is a favorite for tourists in restaurants. Since it is simmered, it is not crispy on the outside. Eisbein can be made at home with simple ingredients and great results.

Ingredients

  • Brine:
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt for each quart of water
  • (1 1/2 teaspoons pink salt or DQ Curing Salt per quart of water
  • 1 quart water 
  • Pig knuckles or hocks with rind or skin still attached
  • Broth:
  • Marjoram
  • Bay leaf
  • Allspice
  • Black pepper
  • Coriander
  • Juniper berries
  • Garlic cloves
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Sugar

Steps to Make It

Cure the Pork

If you can find fresh pig's knuckles you must cure them before eating. Salt curing them infuses the pork with salt and removes some of the water, concentrating the flavor of the meat. Try a local grocery store with on-site butcher services or an ethnic grocery store and order ahead. (If you buy salt-cured hocks or knuckles, skip ahead to the next section on cooking them.)

To make the brine, use a 12 percent salt solution by weight. Dissolve 1 1/2 cups kosher salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pink salt per quart of water. Make enough to cover all your pork and chill the water thoroughly before continuing.

Use a non-reactive container to brine (cure) the pork. Plastic, including plastic zip lock bags, will work, as will any other glass or enamel pans. Place the pork in the container and add the brine to cover and refrigerate.

Leave the pork in the brine for 1 to 5 days in the refrigerator. The longer it sits in the brine, the saltier it will be. If it is in bags, turn over once or twice a day to redistribute the brine.

Cook the Eisbein

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Rinse the cured pork under running water and place in the boiling water. Bring it back to a boil, remove the scum from the surface and turn the heat to low.

Add spices and vegetables you prefer for flavor. You can add about 1 teaspoon of each of the spices, 1 or 2 onions or carrots and 2 teaspoons of sugar per quart of cooking water. You will not usually need salt since the pork will salt the water.

Simmer the pork for 2 to 3 hours. When the rind starts separating from the meat, the pork knuckle is done.

You can choose to crisp the skin (rind) by placing under the broiler for 20 minutes or so but don't cook it too long or the skin will be too tough to chew.