Lowenbrau Keller's Dirk Rieber shares his tips and a recipe for roasting a pork knuckle with cracking, just in time for Oktoberfest.
SCHWEINSHAXE (roasted pork knuckle)
4 brined pork knuckles* (order pork knuckles from your butcher and ask that they are brined)
Approximately 60g salt
4 bay leaves
500ml dark beer such as Hofbräu Dunkel
1 tsp corn starch
Extra salt and pepper (to season)
Roughly chop one carrot and one onion and put them into a large stock pot along with two bay leaves. Add water to the stock pot until three-quarters full and bring to the boil.
When the water is boiling, add a generous sprinkling of salt and carefully lower in the pork knuckles. Make sure the knuckles are fully immersed in the water. Top up with a little water if necessary. Return water to the boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer.
Simmer pork knuckles until meat is tender. This will take between 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the size of the pork knuckles. To check if they are cooked, insert a large meat fork into the meatiest part of the knuckle. The knuckle should slide off the fork without any resistance. Remove knuckles from pan and leave to cool slightly. Reserve stock.
Preheat oven to 180C.
When knuckles are cool enough to handle, pat them dry and sprinkle the skin with salt until well covered. Shake off excess salt.
Roughly chop remaining onion and carrot and place in the bottom of a large roasting tin, with 2 bay leaves.
Place a wire baking rack over the vegetables inside the roasting tin and sit the pork knuckles on top of the rack.
Pour reserved stock into the roasting tray, the liquid should not touch the wire rack or the underside of will not get crispy.
Carefully place the roasting tray into the pre-heated oven and roast for 1 - 1.5 hours, or until golden in colour. Baste with juices from the pan after half an hour, then baste twice more at 5-10 minute intervals. Check for a reading above 75C with a meat thermometer.
Raise oven temperature to 230C - 250C for a further 5-10 minutes to crisp up the knuckle skin until it turns deep golden brown in colour.
Take the knuckles out of the oven and rest for five minutes.
To make bier jus, strain liquid from roasting tray into a saucepan, add the beer and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer slowly for 5-10 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Thicken more some of the corn starch, if necessary.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve the knuckles with bier jus, sauerkraut and mashed potato.
Lowenbrau Keller's bier professor Dominic Dighton recommends using Hofbräu Dunkel in this dish, which is available at selected independent bottle shops in Sydney and Melbourne.
*Note: If you want to brine the knuckles yourself, ask your butcher for fresh pork knuckles and submerge them in a brining solution comprising 3 litres of water and 60 grams of salt. Leave the knuckles in the brining solution for at least a week.