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Carnivore Corner: Schweinebraten

May 26, 2012

When my paternal grandmother was alive, she would ring us about once a month and invite us to Sunday Lunch. She always served roast something with lashings of roasted veges, and peas.  Oh, how we looooved her roast veges. Everything was cooked to death in lots of lard or something and the potatoes were these little rigid buttery cases that could ping across the room if you hit them wrong with your knife, with a bit of fluffiness inside. Heaven! Not good for you, but once-a-month amounts to a sometimes-food, so it didn’t hurt us. My sister tells me she didn’t eat the meat, though. She majored firmly in the potatoes. I had a fortunate fondness for Grandma’s mixed pickle, so I used to pile that on and eat the meat quite happily.

If memory serves (and this was a while ago, now) Grandma used to do roast pork quite often. We all know that pork can kill you if it’s undercooked. Grandma’s roasts were Never Ever Undercooked. Never. Grandma apparently took food safety quite seriously. Everyone in her generation did. The end result was a bunch of grandchildren who were violently underwhelmed at the prospect of roasted pork. A big slab of unimaginatively roasted pork is just blah.

BUT THEN my family was delivered forever from a world of blah when my brother-in-law-to-be joined our ranks. He comes from Austria and had probably didn’t even know pork could be blah until he got to New Zealand. He was probably horrified at what happened to pigs in the kitchens of our country and quickly introduced us to Schweinebraten, which is just German for roast pork. I was talking of heaven, earlier… O Schweinebraten. We do not thank Germany/Austria for the wars, but we should, and my family does, thank them for their roast pork.

I spotted a bit of shoulder pork on special in that Large Yellow Supermarket and, tho I prefer to eat happy pigs, I have a weakness and will buy supermarket pork on special if I see it. Also, it’s my weekend off (meaning I was home for dinner– yay!), so we decided to make Schweinebraten and just enjoy it. So, of course, I took pics and resolved to show how to make this deliciousness.

First, you’ll need to deepen any scoring in the skin. Some butchers cross-hatch; some do parallel lines. It doesn’t matter which, but use a sharp knife– sawing through pig skin with a blunt knife is no fun at all…

Then you just rub crushed garlic all over the roast– I use my handy jar of crushed garlic, but of course you can peel and crush your own– and then scatter caraway seeds over and place it in your roasting pan with a bit of butter on top.

(I always line my roasting dish with baking paper as it stops things sticking and makes clean-up easy.)

When I cook a roast, I choose a temperature based on how much time I have, really. But if I had to nail it down, I’d say cook it at about 170°C and look in your trusty Edmonds Cookbook or look online for how long per 500g or whatever.

While the Schweinebraten is cooking, you’re supposed to baste it with beer. Yes, really. I don’t drink beer and didn’t feel like going out to buy some just for this, so I just used water, which works fine. When the butter has melted through, pour some beer or water over the roast and then leave it for ten minutes or so and repeat. When you have enough juices accumulated in the bottom of the roasting pan, you can just scoop some up and pour that over the roast as it cooks. This helps the Schwienebraten stay moist and delicious, so don’t skip this step. If I was a real Austrian, I’d drizzle those juices over the meat on my plate before I ate it, but I’m just not, so I don’t. If you want to, go ahead…

Once the Schweinebraten is  cooked, and the other yummy things you’ve obviously been preparing and cooking to have with it (in a separate dish) are ready, let it rest for a bit

then slice it up– thick wedges are perfectly acceptable– and plate up a feast of gorgeousness!!!

Enjoy!! We certainly did 🙂

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