Eisbein is a traditional German dish of juicy, tender pork knuckle with the crispiest, crackly skin. Serve with vegetables and perfectly cooked creamy sauteed potatoes for a meal you will want to eat again and again!
Post updated August 2021 with new photos and extra information – the recipe itself remains unchanged.
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There are many names for this dish, depending on where you live in the world. In Germany it is either Schweinshaxe or Eisbein, in Poland it is known as Golonka and the Swedes call it Flasklagg. If you are in Austria, it goes by the name of
What is pork knuckle?
Pork knuckle is traditionally made from a boiled ham hock and can be served either just boiled, with
You can also roast the pork knuckle in the oven, rather than boiling, which will result in a nice crispy skin. I prefer to boil it first in the pressure cooker because I think it makes the meat juicier. The meat from the knuckle has a lot of connective tissue and ligaments and therefore it needs to be either boiled for a long time or baked very slowly in the oven to break down this tissue and soften the meat.
Properly cooked, pork knuckle is one of the most tender and tasty joints of meat you can get.
What part of the pig does it come from?
A pork knuckle is a cut of meat from just above the trotter on either the front or back leg of the pig. The cut from the back leg is larger than the one from the front leg, but both taste the same and can be cooked in the same way.
I found this picture on Wikipedia, which illustrates the cut perfectly.
- Prep time – 15 minutes
- Cooking time – 2 hours
- Calories – 360 per serving
- Main equipment – electric pressure cooker (or normal pressure cooker). I use a Pressure King Pro electric pressure cooker, but I’ve had it for so long I can’t find it on Amazon! I did find this one though, which is very similar (and probably a lot more up-to-date).
How to cook a crispy pork knuckle
For a complete list of ingredients and full instructions on how to cook a crispy pork knuckle, see the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
It takes about 2 hours to pressure cook the meat and crisp the skin. The potatoes take about half an hour to prepare and cook, but they can be done whilst the meat is cooking so I haven’t added this to the total time.
Get the meat in the pressure cooker
My pressure cooker will only take 2 pork knuckles at a time so if you want to do 4 knuckles you will need a REALLY big pressure cooker, or you will have to do them in 2 batches.
Try to get pork knuckles with a good covering of skin. Sometimes the butcher will trim a lot of the skin away, but it is the skin that gives the lovely crispness to this dish.
An uncooked pork knuckle normally weighs in the region of 2 pounds or 900 grams. However, there are two large bones running through the knuckle, and a lot of fat and connective tissue which adds tons of flavour, but is normally not eaten.
Rinse the knuckles in cold water and put them in a pressure cooker with 1 carrot, 1 stick of celery, 1 small onion, about 10 peppercorns and 1 teaspoon of salt and cover with 1/2 litre of water. No need to chop the veggies first – they are only in there to add flavour.
Set the pressure cooker time
I like to cook this in 30 minute stages . After the first 30 minutes I open the pressure cooker and give the meat a bit of a stir around. Then cook again for another 30 minutes. Depending on the size of the pork knuckles they may be fully cooked after the second 30 minutes. If not, I give them a bit longer.
Set the pressure cooker at 30 minutes on its highest setting. Mine has a setting for ‘stew’ and a setting for ‘meat’ and I find that ‘stew’ works better for this.
After 30 minutes let the pressure release, open the pressure cooker and turn the meat. Top up with more water if it looks as though it is boiling dry. I didn’t need to do this, but it depends on your pressure cooker.
Cook for another 30 minutes then release the pressure and open the pressure cooker. Check the meat do see whether it is done.
The meat will be ready if the skin is translucent and the meat can be easily pierced with a fork, and looks as though it is ready to fall off the bone. The meat will also have pulled back from the bone.
This stage is where you give your meat a final cook, if it is still not quite done after the first 2 stages.
I was cooking 2 large knuckles and found that they weren’t completely cooked so I gave them another 30 minutes.
Use your own judgement
The length of cooking time depends on the size of your pork knuckles. You may find you only need (say) another 15 minutes.
Crisp the skin
Place the knuckles in a baking tray and on a shelf just above the bottom of your oven (ie below the middle) with the grill turned on. Don’t put them too close to the grill of they WILL burn.
Be careful THEY BURN EASILY. You need to keep your eye on them and turn them occasionally so that they crisp all over.
If you find the meat is browning too much, cover the meat with a piece of tin-foil and leave only the skin exposed.
Remove from the oven
Once the pork knuckles are crispy you can remove them from the oven and serve. I like to serve them with sauteed potatoes and a selection of vegetables.
How to make the sauteed potatoes
You will need a large frying pan with a lid.
For the sauteed potatoes you need to have twice as many potatoes as onions. If you are making this for four people you will need 6 medium-sized potatoes and 3 medium onions.
I always brown the potatoes in a little oil before adding the onions. This way the sauteed potatoes tend to come out nice and brown, whereas if you fry the onions first and then add the potatoes they still taste the same, but they don’t have that lovely golden brown colour.
Fry the potatoes
Chop the potatoes into 1″ cubes and place them in 2 tablespoons of hot oil in a frying pan.
Sprinkle with salt and allow to brown over a hot heat stirring occasionally. I like to brown the potatoes first as this gives a good colour to the sauteed potatoes.
Add the onions
Now add the onions to the potatoes. Give them a good stir, turn down the heat and cover with a lid.
Saute until cooked
Allow the potatoes and onions to saute gently, stirring occasionally until done. This step takes about 10 minutes. The potatoes should be soft and creamy and the onions should be nice and soft.
We are a family of 2 and I normally make one knuckle each purely because we are greedy and both like the crackling. There is always a lot of meat left over, but it makes lovely sandwiches.
This also depends on the size of the knuckle- a small one would be more than sufficient for one person – a medium to large one would probably serve 2 hungry people.
No, you can boil the knuckles in a normal saucepan. Depending on the size, this could take up to three hours. A pressure cooker just speeds up the process.
In Germany, this cut of meat is traditionally served with sauerkraut (pickled cabbage).
I like to serve it with sauteed potatoes and a bowl of fresh steamed vegetables. You could serve it with mashed potatoes if you prefer (mash your potatoes with a teaspoon of mustard and a knob of butter for instant mustard mash).
A dish of apple sauce makes a nice accompaniment or a little mustard on the side.
The cooking liquid has a lovely flavour. I strain it through a sieve and keep it in the fridge for adding to stews and casseroles.
The liquid turns to jelly when cold (because of all the gelatin in the meat fibres) and the fat rises to the top and can be skimmed off.
It will keep for up to a week in a sealed jar in the fridge, or you can freeze it.
These knuckles have quite a lot of meat on them, and for those with a smaller appetite, there is always a lot left over. Why not turn the leftovers into mini pork pies?
Just line muffin tins with shortcrust pastry, fill with chopped-up left over meat, top up with the cooking liquid, cover with a lid of pastry and bake in a hot oven (200C/400F) for 15 to 20 minutes until the pastry is golden.
Allow them to cool before eating.
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This recipe was number 5 on my top 10 recipes for December 2019.
Recipe – Crispy pork knuckle with sauteed potatoes
Crispy pork knuckle with sauteed potatoes
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
For the pork knuckle
- 2 to 3 pork knuckles
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 stick celery
- 1 small onion
- ½ litre water or 1 pint
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the saute potatoes
- 6 medium potatoes cubed
- 3 medium onions coarsely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Olive oil or sunflower oil
- Salt to taste
- Wash the pork knuckles and place in a pressure cooker2 to 3 pork knuckles
- Add the whole carrot, celery and onion along with the salt and peppercorns1 medium carrot, 1 stick celery, 1 small onion, 10 whole black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon salt
- Pour in the water½ litre water
- Set the pressure cooker on 'meat' or 'stew' function and cook for 30 minutes
- Release the pressure, open the pressure cooker and turn the meat over.
- Set the pressure cooker on 'meat' or 'stew' function and cook for a further 30 minutes
- Release the pressure, open the pressure cooker and check for 'doneness'.
- If the meat is not quite done steam again for a few minutes. Use your own judgement on this step.
- When the meat is cooked, remove from the pressure cooker and allow to cool until you can handle it. Pat the skin dry with kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt and place in a baking pan on the lowest shelf of your oven under a hot grill, turning occasionally, until the skin is crispy.
For the sauteed potatoes
- Cut the potatoes into 1" pieces. Chop the onion into 1 cm dice.6 medium potatoes, 3 medium onions
- Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the potatoes and allow to brown slightly.2 Tablespoons Olive oil or sunflower oil
- Add the onions and stir to coat with oil and to mix with the potatoes. Add salt to taste.Salt to taste
- Place the lid on the frying pan, reduce the heat and allow the potatoes and onions to sweat gently until the potatoes are soft and the onions are cooked through. Stir occasionally.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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