This past week I had the opportunity to be go up to Baraboo, WI to visit my Mom (and set up her new iPad ), socially distanced of course. As we would often do on a visit to my home town, I stopped at the Meat Market and picked up a rib roast – for steaks, and a couple of nice looking big pork hocks / shanks.
Since I published the original post on making Schweinshaxe last year, we have made it a few times since with variable results. So, I was determined to address the variability / shortcomings of the original post and make a “close to perfect” example. Problems that we encountered included: skin not crispy enough, meat drying out, the skin sections falling off when transferring from sous vide bag to the roasting pan (not to mention an overly grease splattered oven a couple of times). So there were a few changes:
- Get BIG pork shanks from the butcher. The skimpy, thin, pre-packaged ones at the grocery store don’t have enough meat to make it worth it and the meat dries out before the skin gets properly crispy (and the skin is really the star of the show).
- Score the skin PRIOR to sous vide cooking. Be sure to only cut the skin and not go into the fat. It is better to be a bit too light on the cut than too deep into the fat layer. This addressed the problem of the skin pieces falling off when transferring and roasting. Plus itis a LOT easier to score the skin when raw than while it is gelatinous / jiggly after sous vide cooking
- Sous vide at 160F for 24 hrs (vs 170F for 20 hrs). A bit lower temp lead to the meat and fat being firmer and less likely to fall apart on transfer. When transfering, slice the bag open and slide the meat out and then set it upright (don’t try to lift it out or it may crumble).
- Salt the skin again after placing in the roasting pan (more crispiness)
- Roast at 350F for 45-60 min (basically the same) initially then:
- Convect roast at 425F for 45 min (longer and convect roast works better to crisp the skin than convect bake if you have it).
- Skim the caramelized crispy goodness from the edges of the baking pan every 15 min initially and every 5-10min at the higher temp and place on the pork shank. If you leave it on the pan it will likely burn and when paced on the meat it also crisps up nicely.
- Add the beer every 15 min or so to maintain a depth of 1/2 decreasing to 3/8″ of liquid. If you let this get too low, you will have a burnt mess and splattered oven. If too high (e.g. dumpin the beer at the beginning) the skin won’t be crisp enough but instead soggy on the bottom. I used most of a bottle of Leinie’s Honey Weiss. Don’t use an IPA or anything that is very hoppy!
Plate and serve – YUM. Crispy, crunchy, bubbly skin and delectable meat.