Smoked pork knuckle looks like a fatty hunk of tendons and meat, but simmering or oven-braising turns this budget-friendly but richly flavored meat into a savory, succulent feast. The knuckle, actually a pork knee joint, is a traditional dish in Germany, where it is called schweinhaxe. Smoked pork knuckle is often served on a bed of sauerkraut or slow-cooked cabbage with homemade egg noodles or a plump dumpling on the side. During Octoberfest, the smokey meat pairs well with a full-bodied German beer.
Basic Boiled Pork Knuckles
Fill a large saucepan with water. For more flavor, use chicken or beef broth.
Place the pork knuckles in the liquid and bring to liquid to a boil.
Cover the pan securely, then simmer the pork knuckles 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is tender and you can easily pull the meat away from the bone with a fork.
Drain the pork knuckles thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper, then serve.
Braising to Enhance and Tenderize
Rinse the smoked pork knuckles thoroughly, then coat the meat generously with salt. Rub the salt into the pork with your hands.
Fill the roasting pan about half-full with water, or use chicken or beef broth for more flavor. Place the pan in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For a salty-sweet preparation, you can cover the bottom of the roasting pan with a bed of sliced onions and apples, then sprinkle the onions with caraway seeds.
Cook the pork knuckles for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender. Remove the meat from the knuckle, or serve the knuckles on individual plates and let each diner remove the meat from the bone.
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M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.