Saturday, October 11, 2014
Eisbein, meaning ice leg, is the German name for a traditional dish involving the lower part of hams hocks. It is also known as Hachse, Hechse, Haxe, Hämsche or Stelze. In Swiss German, it is known as Gnagi. The name comes from the one time use of this part to make ice skates!
I just know eisbein to be a memory laden meal that I've eaten all my life!
After my mom passed away and my father was bedridden, I would make Eisbein every Saturday afternoon. It would bubble away in the kitchen for a few hours whispering comforting memories, my dad would slowly wake up and sit up on the edge of his bed waiting. Sitting on the floor with my plate, we'd eat together and talk about my mom and the family in Germany. I didn't care that it was mostly the same conversation each week. Sometimes the conversation led to us calling Germany, but most often it just made us feel whole...like she was with us still.
What I wouldn't give to be eating an eisbein on the floor looking up and listening to my dad's stories today!
German Ham Hock with Sauerkraut
ham hocks (here they come in packs of four)
Sauerkraut (I use the whole bag)
1 large onion, chopped
5 pepper corns
1 bay leaf
4 tsp salt
6 cups chicken stock (I think cooking it in the stock makes all the difference)
Add all ingredients including the Sauerkraut into pot. Pour enough stock over the ingredients to cover the meat. I used about 6 cups of stock. Bring everything to a boil and let it simmer until the meat becomes soft and cooked. This takes about 2-3 hours, but this may vary.
Divide it onto plates. Add some of the meat and serve it with cooked potatoes...I always boiled my potatoes and served the eisbein on top of the potatoes.
My cousin JUST sent me a picture of an eisbein he was enjoying at Octoberfest...his had been boiled then broiled to crisp up the skin!!